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Quick Hit
by Op-Ed
3:51pm
Tue Jul 28

Op-Ed: NY Wage Board Raises For 200,000 Fast Food Workers - Another Legacy of Jon Kest, Famed New York Organizer

The following was written by Keith Kelleher, president of SEIU* Healthcare Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and Kansas.

Breakfasts with my friend, progressive icon Jon Kest, were always lively. We'd talk about organizing, progressive politics and life. But when we met at a Brooklyn diner three years ago, even I couldn't believe what he wanted to discuss this time: an audacious plan to win raises and union rights for 200,000 fast food workers in New York, and help spark a movement calling for $15 an hour for hundreds of thousands of home care, child care, airport and other underpaid workers across the United States.

If you don't know Jon, he was one of New York's - and the nation's - premier community, political and labor organizers until his life was tragically cut short by liver cancer in December, 2012.

We didn't know about his diagnosis that morning. But we did know that we were on the ground floor of a potentially transformative movement.  Jon and his staff at the New York Communities for Change (NYCC) in New York, and Madeline Talbott and her staff at Action Now in Chicago, working with SEIU, had been experimenting with organizing underpaid fast food workers in New York and Chicago.

I was somewhat disbelieving when Jon unveiled the idea of helping fast food workers in New York organize and take action on a grand scale to help win historic raises. I organized fast food workers in Detroit in the 1980s. The work was hard and victories were few and far between. Although Jon and I worked in different regions, our experiences were similar: the hard working men and women in those jobs were excited and highly motivated by the idea of forming a union to win better wages that would support their families.

Still, the odds seemed long.

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
3:26pm
Thu Jul 9

Chicago Window Washers Rally For A New Contract (VIDEO)

Unionized window washers in Chicago took their campaign for a fair contract to the Magnificent Mile late Wednesday afternoon for a march and rally. Progress Illinois was there for the event.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
6:16pm
Fri Jun 12

Report: Low Wages In Full-Service Restaurant Industry Cost Taxpayers $9.4 Billion Annually

Many full-service restaurant industry workers are forced to seek public aid to supplement their low wages and lack of benefits, and that leaves U.S. taxpayers with a $9.4 billion tab each year.

That's according to a recent report by Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC). The restaurant worker advocacy group found that nearly half of the more than 4 million full-service restaurant workers live in households enrolled in at least one public assistance program.

Of that $9.4 billion, $1.4 billion represents the public cost of low-end pay and benefits provided at the country's five largest full-service restaurant companies, which collectively earned $704 million in profits and paid their chief executives $27 million in the last year alone, according to ROC.

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