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."
Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett is taking a leave of absence while federal prosecutors investigate a $20 million no-bid CPS contract granted to a company for which she previously worked.
Chicago Mayoral challenger Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia joined the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) on Wednesday in demanding a $15 an hour minimum wage for all Chicago Public Schools (CPS) employees, including subcontracted workers.
Garcia and CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey made the call for a "living wage" for CPS employees at a press conference held ahead of the Chicago Board of Education's monthly meeting.
Safe Passage workers, who guard routes students take while traveling to and from school, are among those who would be impacted if CPS lifted its hourly minimum wage to $15 for all employees.
Sharkey said "there are hundreds, if not thousands, of Safe Passage workers" who currently earn less than $15 an hour.
"I stand with CTU today because what they are pressing for is an increase in the living wage," said Garcia, who is endorsed by the teachers' union in Chicago's mayoral race. "It is essential to have more stable families. They are critical providers of front-line services, caring for our children, ensuring greater community stability. I stand with them because it is good for Chicago and for a more promising Chicago for all workers in the city."