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Quick Hit
Tue Sep 10, 2013

Guest Post: CTU Marks One-Year Anniversary Of Historic Strike

The following is from the Chicago Teachers Union reflecting on the one-year anniversary of the teachers' strike.

One year ago, nearly 30,000 public school educators took to the picket lines to fight for the neighborhood schools their students deserve. They also wanted to secure a strong labor contract and regain respect for their profession. It was the first teachers strike in the city’s history in 25 years and it took the city by storm. Led by Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) President Karen Lewis, a former chemistry teacher, the colorful demonstrations, which began September 10, 2012 and lasted nine days, garnered national and international headlines as the “sea of red,” flooded the streets of downtown Chicago in a unified show of force.

The 2012 teachers strike was perhaps the first time in the city’s history that a labor action of its kind garnered widespread support from the public, including parents of Chicago Public School (CPS) students. After weeks of dramatic labor negotiations, protests, news conferences and rallies at the Board of Education teachers walked away with one of the strongest labor contract in recent history, a more unified workforce and the distinction of haven taken on a powerful, media-savvy mayor and won.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Wed Sep 4, 2013

Elwood Takes Legal Action Against CenterPoint Over Prevailing Wage Dispute

The Village of Elwood wants CenterPoint Properties Trust to prove that it is complying with the state’s prevailing wage laws as part of a heavily-subsidized tax increment financing (TIF) agreement to construct a massive multi-use industrial park in Will County.

Elwood officials filed a complaint in Cook County Circuit Court August 28 asking that a judge require the Oakbrook-based real estate developer to hand over records that would show workers at the Deer Run Industrial Park redevelopment site have been paid according to state law.

According to Elwood’s complaint, CenterPoint has refused to provide any payroll documents to the village that would confirm that the company is adhering to the Illinois Prevailing Wage Act, which requires a minimum wage and benefits threshold for workers associated with publicly-financed projects. Under state law, developers of taxpayer-subsidized projects are required to keep such compliance records.

“We find it troubling that CenterPoint refuses to hand over public documents that would reveal if prevailing wage laws have been violated,” Elwood Mayor William Offerman said in a statement. “Because taxpayer dollars and public records are at issue, the village has a duty and obligation to ensure that prevailing wage statutes are enforced and that local workers are getting paid what they deserve and what is required by law.”

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Thu Aug 15, 2013

Activists Want An Immediate End To Illinois' Medicaid Privatization Contract

Activists with the Alliance for Community Services protested at the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services’ (HFS) Chicago office Thursday morning demanding that the state immediately end its $76 million contract with a private, for-profit company hired to “scrub” the Medicaid rolls.

Following a grievance filed by AFSCME, an arbitrator ruled back in June that the state must end its two-year contract with Maximus Health Services Inc. by December 31 because it violates the state’s contract with the union. Arbitrator Edwin Benn ruled that state employees should be doing the work to investigate Medicaid fraud, not Maximus, the outside contractor.

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
Fri Aug 2, 2013

Bakery Workers Protest Company's Alleged Union Busting, Prepare For Strike (VIDEO)

Bakery workers and their supporters protested outside of Elk Grove Village's Grecian Delight Thursday to criticize the company’s alleged attempts to dismantle the union during contract negotiations.

“They want to exploit cheap labor, they want to get rid of union security,” said Margarito Diaz, a union representative for Workers United. “Workers are ready to do whatever needs to be done to protect the issue of seniority, the issue of temporary employees and access, and union security.”

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
Wed Jul 10, 2013

Group Unveils Plan To Tackle Privatization, Increase Government Transparency

The push back against privatization, or putting public services and assets in the hands of private entities, has become more organized. Last week, a public interest group released a legislative agenda to combat privatization, which they say too often contributes to the downward spiral of local economies and the growing wage gap in the U.S.

The newly-released “Taxpayer Empowerment Agenda” is a package of policy recommendations intended to assert taxpayer control over public resources. Unveiled by In The Public Interest (ITPI), a resource group focused on privatization and contracting, the agenda is being introduced to lawmakers across the country in the hopes of making government contracting processes more accountable and transparent.

“We wanted to introduce a set of proactive public protections aimed at defending our communities from the often detrimental effects of privatization,” said Shahrzad Habibi, research and policy director for ITPI.