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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
1:31pm
Thu Oct 30, 2014

Housing Activists Criticize Emanuel’s Management Of CHA At Anti-Homelessness Event (VIDEO)

While Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was at a pricey downtown breakfast event on homelessness, city housing activists and homeless families protested outside Thursday morning citing the mayor’s “failure to support reform of the Chicago Housing Authority.”

“Under Mayor Emanuel’s watch, the CHA has failed to release 13,500 available housing vouchers, left thousands of public housing units vacant, stopped rebuilding public housing and stockpiled over $432 million in surplus cash at the expense of housing for thousands,” said Paul Burns with the Metropolitan Tenants Organization and the Chicago Housing Initiative, which organized today’s protest.

“And yet today, the mayor shows up to a breakfast about ending homelessness,” he continued. “This is hypocrisy, and we will not be silent … The truth is that until the mayor begins talking about reforming the CHA and setting clear standards for the agency, he is not talking about ending homelessness.”

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
2:22pm
Wed Oct 29, 2014

Report: Emanuel’s $13 Minimum Wage Plan Would ‘Shortchange’ Women, Minority Workers

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s proposal to lift the city’s hourly minimum wage to $13 would leave out approximately 65,000 low-wage workers who are mostly women and people of color.

That’s according to a new Center for Popular Democracy report, which compared the potential impacts of the mayor’s $13 minimum wage plan with a competing $15 minimum wage ordinance introduced in late May by a group of aldermen, including members of the council’s Progressive Reform Caucus. 

The proposed $13 ordinance specifically “shortchanges” domestic and tipped workers, the majority of whom are women of color, according to the report.

The Raise Chicago coalition, which supports the $15 plan, released the report’s findings at a City Hall press conference Wednesday morning. More low-wage Chicago workers would be covered by the $15 plan, which would also almost double the economic impact for the city compared to the $13 measure, the report found.

“With the opportunity to nearly double the economic growth of people across the city, our Raise Chicago ordinance would help propel people towards financial stability, help this city and state with tax revenues, and its effects would ripple through every community in Chicago,” said Action Now Executive Director Katelyn Johnson, a Raise Chicago leader. “The mayor’s proposal does not do enough to address the needs of Chicagoans and, in fact, will keep people living paycheck to paycheck.”

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
5:31pm
Wed Oct 8, 2014

Chicago Aldermen Approve IG Measure, Washington Park TIF; Elected School Board Referendum Gets Squeezed

Progress Illinois provides highlights from Wednesday's Chicago City Council meeting.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
4:17pm
Tue Oct 7, 2014

Workers’ Rights Advocates Call For Paid Sick Leave As Chicago Aldermen Move Forward On Ballot Referendum

Chicago voters might have an opportunity during the February municipal election to weigh in on a non-binding ballot referendum about paid sick leave for workers in the city.

The council’s Rules Committee passed a resolution at its Tuesday meeting calling for an advisory ballot question on whether employers in Chicago should be required to provide their employees with paid leave in the event of an “illness or public health emergency.” The full council could consider the proposal at its meeting this Wednesday. 

Chicago Ald. Joe Moore (49th), one of the sponsors of the referendum resolution, discussed the measure at a forum on paid sick leave and other pro-worker initiatives held this morning at Roosevelt University.

“It’s a great organizing tool for those who support paid sick leave,” Moore said of the pending citywide referendum, also sponsored by Alds. Joe Moreno (1st) and Will Burns (4th). Moore said he is confident the measure will pass through the full council tomorrow.

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
7:28pm
Thu Sep 18, 2014

Chicago Activists Press Alds. Cappleman, O’Connor To Support $15 Minimum Wage (VIDEO)

While working roughly 60 hours a week at two jobs, Ovadhwah McGee says he lives paycheck to paycheck and struggles to pay his bills each month.

McGee, a single father living in the South Side Woodlawn neighborhood with his 13-year-old son, said he works as an in-home care worker and a certified nursing assistant, making an hourly wage of $12.35 and $13.50, respectively.

“I need to be able to put food on my table without having to go to food pantries. I need to be able to work one job so I can actually spend time with my son,” he said, adding that he can’t afford to get his car fixed and thus spends two hours on public transit every day to get to and from work.

“I’m here fighting for a $15 minimum wage in the city of Chicago because I need it, because my son needs it and because working families across the city need it,” McGee said.

McGee and roughly two-dozen protesters, members of the Raise Chicago coalition, rallied to raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 per hour Thursday morning. The ralliers called on two Chicago aldermen — Alds. Patrick O’Connor (40th) and James Cappleman (46th) — to support their cause by protesting outside of their offices. The activists also demonstrated outside of a North Side McDonald’s restaurant.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
4:16pm
Mon Sep 15, 2014

Report: Wage Theft Costs U.S. Workers Billions Of Dollars Annually (UPDATED)

The “widespread” problem of wage theft in America might be costing U.S. workers more than $50 billion annually, according to a new report by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).

EPI researchers came to the $50 billion estimate based on the findings of a separate, 2008 survey of front-line workers in low-wage industries in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City. In the three major cities, workers in low-wage industries experienced close to $3 billion in total annual wage theft, which includes paying employees less than the minimum wage and failing to pay for overtime.

“Survey evidence suggests that wage theft is widespread and costs workers billions of dollars a year, a transfer from low-income employees to business owners that worsens income inequality, hurts workers and their families, and damages the sense of fairness and justice that a democracy needs to survive,” the EPI report states. “If these findings in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles are generalizable to the rest of the U.S. low-wage workforce of 30 million, wage theft is costing workers more than $50 billion a year.”

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
4:52pm
Wed Sep 10, 2014

Chicago City Council Roundup: Inspector General’s Authority, SROs & CHA Oversight

Progress Illinois provides some of the highlights from Wednesday's Chicago City Council meeting.

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