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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
5:57pm
Thu Mar 27, 2014

Illinois Lawmakers Wage Fight Against Water-Polluting Agents In Cosmetic Products; BP Oil Spill Clean Up Continues (UPDATED)

An extremely small plastic pollutant poses a big threat to the health of the Great Lakes and the state's environment. And some Illinois lawmakers are looking to take action against the problem.

At issue are the super-tiny plastic beads used in hundreds of personal cosmetic products like facial wash, body scrubs and even toothpaste. According to scientists, tens of millions of these little plastic particles have made their way into the Great Lakes.

The cosmetic microbeads, which are less than 5 millimeters in size and commonly used to help with exfoliation, often get washed down household drains. Because the plastic beads are so small, they are not captured during the water treatment process, allowing them to get into waterways.

"There's no way to recover those materials once they're out in open waters," said Olga Lyandres, research manager at the Alliance for the Great Lakes. "Once they enter the environment, they stay there."

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
7:19pm
Mon Mar 24, 2014

Report: Pending SCOTUS Ruling Could Shake Movement To Unionize In-Home Workers

A pending decision by the U.S. Supreme Court could have big ramifications for the ability of home-based child care workers to organize.

The outcome of the Harris v. Quinn case would particularly impact home-based child care workers that receive state funding, affecting how and if they are able to effectively unionize and collectively bargain, argues a new report by the Washington, DC-based National Women’s Law Center.

The report offers a snapshot of the growing national movement to unionize in-home child care providers, who are overwhelmingly female, are often paid low wages and usually do not get benefits. Home-based child care workers at publicly-funded operations in 14 states, including Illinois, have won the right to organize and negotiate with states. That's up from just seven states in 2007, when the law center issued its first report on the issue. 

More recently, home-based child care providers who receive state funding in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island won organizing and bargaining rights. But in places like Maine, Michigan and Wisconsin, home-based child care workers have seen their authority to organize and negotiate with their respective states revoked over the past few years.

The report noted that the push to unionize home-based child care providers has faced increased opposition, mostly related to the broader anti-union movement.

"It's not as though what we're seeing is something specific to this group of providers, but rather much more conservative legislatures and governors taking office and pushing legislation that would curtail the rights of unions, both in the private and public sector in some cases," explained Joan Entmacher, vice president for family economic security at the National Women's Law Center.

And the Supreme Court's pending ruling in the Pamela Harris v. Pat Quinn case, which centers around home-based health care aides in Illinois, could potentially mean another major setback for in-home child care providers as well as other home care workers.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
1:06pm
Tue Mar 18, 2014

SEIU Members Help Nancy Schiavone Get Voters To The Polls In Illinois' 40th District (VIDEO)

Nancy Schiavone, who is running in the hotly contested Democratic primary race in Illinois' 40th representative district, saw support Tuesday morning from SEIU* Local 1 members who hit the streets on Chicago's Northwest Side to canvas on behalf of the candidate.

"We've identified folks, and we're hoping that we get them to the polls," Schiavone told Progress Illinois at her campaign office ahead of the canvas. "We have a really terrific field program, and we're just going to keep at it until 7 o'clock tonight," which is when the polls close. 

Schiavone is one of four Democratic candidates vying to unseat incumbent State Rep. Jaime Andrade (D-Chicago), a former top aide to the now retired Chicago Ald. Dick Mell (33rd). Andrade has represented the 40th District since August after being appointed to fill the vacancy left by Deb Mell, who succeeded her father as alderman of Chicago's 33rd Ward. 

The other Democratic candidates in Tuesday's 40th District Democratic primary battle include attorney Aaron Goldstein, community development organizer Wendy Jo Harmston and electrical engineer Mark Pasieka. There are no Republicans running in the 40th district, which includes parts of the Logan Square, Albany Park, Avondale and Irving Park communities in Chicago.

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
12:18am
Mon Mar 17, 2014

Election Preview: The Democratic Battle In Illinois' 40th District

The five-person race in Illinois' 40th legislative district on Chicago's Northwest Side is one of the key Democratic battles to watch in Tuesday's primary election. Progress Illinois takes a look at the contest.

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