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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
4:52pm
Mon Apr 7, 2014

Bangladeshi Garment Workers, UIC Students Join Forces In Call For Improved Factory Conditions

Nearly a year after the Rana Plaza garment factory collapsed in Bangladesh, two organizers of the Bangladeshi labor movement encouraged University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) students to continue pressuring clothing companies to sign an important workplace safety accord.

Aleya Akter, 29, general secretary of the Bangladeshi Garment and Industrial Workers Federation, and Aklima Khanam, 20, a garment worker who survived the deadly Rana Plaza disaster, visited the university Monday.

“I want to tell university students [that] we’re making clothing for you, so do you want us to be in factories like Rana Plaza … where workers are dying,” Khanam asked while speaking through a translator.

The UIC’s chapter of the United Students Against Sweatshops, a student run-organization active on more than 150 college campuses in North America, hosted Monday’s discussion about the continued struggle for garment worker safety in Bangladesh.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
6:18pm
Mon Mar 31, 2014

Durbin, Quinn Join ‘Give America A Raise’ Bus Tour, Continue Call For Minimum Wage Hike (VIDEO)

Elected officials, low-wage workers and others are ramping up the pressure on Republicans in Congress to support a federal minimum wage hike.

The national “Give America A Raise” bus tour, which backs President Barack Obama’s call to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour, made its way to Illinois Monday. The effort piggybacks on Obama’s call during his 2014 State of the Union address for Congress to “give America a raise.” Obama has pressed Congress to take action after he announced an Executive Order to have federal contractors pay their employees $10.10 an hour.

The 11-state bus tour, spearheaded by Americans United for Change, stopped in Chicago Monday morning and saw support from Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and workers’ right activists in the state, including members of the statewide coalition Raise Illinois as well as Citizen Action-Illinois

“If you work 40 hours a week and you do a good job, you shouldn’t have to live in poverty, and that’s what raising the minimum wage is all about,” said Quinn, who first called for bumping the state’s current $8.25 minimum wage to at least $10 an hour during his 2013 State of the State address.

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
12:31pm
Fri Mar 14, 2014

Guest Post: Chicagoland Hospitality Workers Rally For Fair Treatment At Neil Bluhm’s Rivers Casino

The following is from UNITE HERE on Thursday’s action at the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines.

On Thursday afternoon, over 100 Rivers Casino workers, Chicago hospitality workers and community allies rallied outside of Rivers Casino. They are calling for better working conditions and an end to management-led intimidation at Rivers. Chicago billionaire Neil Bluhm is the chairman of the company that owns Rivers Casino.

Casino workers have been publicly seeking a fair process to decide whether to join a union since October 2013. Since then, casino management has embarked on an intimidation and harassment campaign that has prompted 55 federal unfair labor practice charges.

Workers claim that management has, among other tactics, threatened the loss of benefits, ordered union fliers thrown in the trash and held captive-audience meetings. In addition, they claim management has directed security personnel to escort union supporters from the dining room and has disciplined union supporters. These tactics can create a climate of fear, hindering employees from unionizing.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
4:40pm
Thu Mar 13, 2014

Class Action Lawsuits Filed Against McDonald’s Alleging ‘Unlawful Pay Practices’

McDonald’s employees in three states have taken their workers’ rights grievances to court. A total of seven class action lawsuits have been brought against McDonald’s and some of the fast food giant’s franchisees by workers in California, Michigan and New York. The suits, which were filed Wednesday and Thursday, accuse McDonald’s of various “unlawful pay practices,” ranging from failing to provide workers with proper overtime compensation to forcing employees to work off the clock.

“These suits have be filed to stop this widespread wage theft,” said Joseph Sellers, co-counsel in the lawsuits filed in California and New York. “These cases have been brought together, because they highlight a broad array of unlawful pay practices, which together reflect ways in which McDonald’s has withheld pay to its low-wage workers in order to enrich the corporation and its shareholders.”

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
7:23pm
Mon Mar 10, 2014

Chicago McDonald’s Workers Celebrate International Women’s Day, Call For An End To Verbal Abuse

    Fast food workers and their supporters protested at Chicago’s Rock N’ Roll McDonald’s on Saturday afternoon to call out a restaurant manager who allegedly told an employee to “put a bullet” in her head.

Members of the Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago (WOCC) and the Fight for 15 campaign staged the demonstration to coincide with International Women’s Day. 

Quick Hit
by
4:33pm
Wed Mar 5, 2014

Guest Post: McDonald’s: Rising Inequality Could Spur Higher Wages

The following is from the Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago and the Fight for 15 campaign.

In its annual 10-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, McDonald’s, for the first time, admitted that it could be forced to raise wages due to increased focus on income inequality.

The company said that its results and financial condition could be affected by “the long-term trend toward higher wages and social expenses in both mature and developing markets, which may intensify with increasing public focus on matters of income inequality.”

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