A former Chicago transit worker who claims he was "unjustly" terminated last month saw support Wednesday morning from some Chicago Teachers Union members and community groups, who want the fired bus driver rehired.
The group, including representatives from the Black Youth Project 100, spoke out before the Chicago Transit Board meeting.
Erek Slater, who previously worked as a Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) bus driver and claims to be a "union steward" and Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 241 executive board member, said he was "unjustly" fired last month.
According to the group, Slater was fired after initiating, as a union steward, "an inquiry into a possible violation of the contract" by the CTA "on the request of his coworker."
Although a tax increment financing (TIF) surplus resolution has stalled in the Chicago City Council, one alderman says the fight to redirect such funds to the cash-crunched school system continues.
Ald. John Arena (45th), with the council's Progressive Reform Caucus, spoke about the TIF surplus resolution during a Tuesday evening education forum on Chicago's Northwest Side. Chicago Jobs with Justice hosted the event at Irving Park Baptist Church, 4401 W. Irving Park Road.
Just hours earlier, Budget Committee Chairwoman Ald. Carrie Austin (34th) used a procedural move to delay consideration of the TIF surplus ordinance -- which is backed by 34 aldermen -- by sending it to the Finance Committee.
"It's not done," Arena said of the TIF resolution, introduced by progressive Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th). Progressive Reform Caucus members are working with "some other folks to try to modify the resolution" in an effort to "get a [TIF] sweep done within the next month or two," Arena told the crowd.
A few hundred Illinois environmental, labor and faith leaders hit Chicago's downtown streets Wednesday evening to rally for climate justice and demand that state leaders implement aggressive policies to combat climate change.
The Chicago demonstration was one of nearly 200 similar events held across the country as part of a national day of action spearheaded by the People's Climate Movement, which was behind last year's massive climate change march in New York City that drew some 400,000 people.
The organizers of Wednesday's national day of action hoped to send a clear message to political leaders scheduled to convene for a United Nations climate change conference in Paris this December.
"The goal of these marches was to help send a clear signal that the people of this country are concerned about [the] climate crisis and injustices that are going on," the Rev. Booker Vance with Faith in Place told Progress Illinois at the Chicago rally. "We want to make sure that when our leaders go to Paris that they have a clear sense that the people are behind them. The United States in all other areas wants to be a leader. This is an (area) clearly where we can show our leadership and understanding and compassion for issues of climate justice."
Ahead of their union election on Saturday, workers seeking to unionize at the Barneys New York in Chicago saw support Thursday morning from three aldermen, who visited the luxury department store and urged management to "treat their employees with respect" and stop alleged anti-union "intimidation tactics."
Chicago Alds. Susan Sadlowski Garza (10th), Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) and John Arena (45th) met briefly with the Barneys Chicago manager inside the store, 15 E. Oak St., to voice their concerns about the treatment of workers there.
"The flagship Barneys New York store in Manhattan has had a union for decades, and today the workers in Chicago of Barneys New York are asking for the same protections, for the same rights, as their counterparts in New York City. I think it's only fair. It's only right," Ramirez-Rosa told Progress Illinois outside Barneys.
Passenger railcar manufacturer Nippon Sharyo has once again garnered the attention of activists and workers' rights advocates, this time for an alleged retaliatory firing. A former Nippon Sharyo worker says she was let go last week after speaking out about alleged unsafe working conditions and unfair treatment at the company's plant in Rochelle, Illinois.
Back in mid-March, then-Nippon Sharyo worker Jennifer Svenkerud filed a whistleblower discrimination complaint with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), claiming that she was written up and sent home without pay after speaking to company officials about an alleged fall hazard in the non-unionized facility.
Svenkerud, 42, worked at Nippon Sharyo's Rochelle plant as an interior railcar assembler. Before filing her complaint with OSHA of the U.S. Labor Department, Svenkerud said she was assigned on March 3 to work inside a passenger railcar that lacked handrails and safety boards to prevent falls.
"They had me drilling up into a ceiling, and I had a five-foot drop within about a half an inch from me," she told Progress Illinois. "And we're supposed to have boards there. So I went to my boss to get boards there, and they told me that that was part of my job, and I didn't need the boards."
On Workers' Memorial Day, a coalition of local worker advocates applauded the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Tuesday morning for recently addressing "serious" safety and health hazards at Nippon Sharyo's passenger train factory in Rochelle, Illinois.
Standing outside Chicago's John C. Kluczynski Federal Building, the location of OSHA's Region 5 office, members of the Illinois Jobs to Move America coalition observed a moment of silence in honor of workers across the nation who have been injured or killed on the job and also called attention to problems at Nippon Sharyo's Rochelle facility. The Illinois Jobs to Move America coalition is comprised of community, faith, environmental and labor leaders, among others.
"The job of an assembly technician at a Ford assembly plant in Chicago shouldn't be so different than a job of [an] assembly technician at Nippon Sharyo['s] factory in Rochelle," Tony Garcia, Illinois legislative director from United Automobile Workers (UAW) Region 4, said. "But based on Nippon's OSHA violations, they are worlds apart ... Irresponsible non-union employers like Nippon Sharyo take a different approach, often cutting corners, doing training on the fly -- or not at all -- and using the cheapest inadequate equipment ... It's time for Nippon Sharyo to fix the hazardous conditions in its factory, and tell the public how they're going to do it."