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Quick Hit
by Op-Ed
Tue Jul 28

Op-Ed: NY Wage Board Raises For 200,000 Fast Food Workers - Another Legacy of Jon Kest, Famed New York Organizer

The following was written by Keith Kelleher, president of SEIU* Healthcare Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and Kansas.

Breakfasts with my friend, progressive icon Jon Kest, were always lively. We'd talk about organizing, progressive politics and life. But when we met at a Brooklyn diner three years ago, even I couldn't believe what he wanted to discuss this time: an audacious plan to win raises and union rights for 200,000 fast food workers in New York, and help spark a movement calling for $15 an hour for hundreds of thousands of home care, child care, airport and other underpaid workers across the United States.

If you don't know Jon, he was one of New York's - and the nation's - premier community, political and labor organizers until his life was tragically cut short by liver cancer in December, 2012.

We didn't know about his diagnosis that morning. But we did know that we were on the ground floor of a potentially transformative movement.  Jon and his staff at the New York Communities for Change (NYCC) in New York, and Madeline Talbott and her staff at Action Now in Chicago, working with SEIU, had been experimenting with organizing underpaid fast food workers in New York and Chicago.

I was somewhat disbelieving when Jon unveiled the idea of helping fast food workers in New York organize and take action on a grand scale to help win historic raises. I organized fast food workers in Detroit in the 1980s. The work was hard and victories were few and far between. Although Jon and I worked in different regions, our experiences were similar: the hard working men and women in those jobs were excited and highly motivated by the idea of forming a union to win better wages that would support their families.

Still, the odds seemed long.

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
Wed Jul 22

U.S. House Budget Bill Seeks Deep Cuts To Education, Labor & Health Programs

Progress Illinois takes a closer look at a U.S. House budget bill covering the departments of labor, health and human services (HHS) and education. The House Appropriations Committee advanced the spending measure last month.

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
Thu Jul 9

Chicago Window Washers Rally For A New Contract (VIDEO)

Unionized window washers in Chicago took their campaign for a fair contract to the Magnificent Mile late Wednesday afternoon for a march and rally. Progress Illinois was there for the event.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Wed Jul 8

Job Openings Hit Record High In May, But 'Quits Rate' Doesn't Move

The number of U.S. job openings reached a record high in May at nearly 5.4 million, but new hires were down slightly during that month. The rate of people voluntarily quitting their jobs, an indication of labor market strength, didn't budge in May either.

That's according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey released Tuesday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Job openings ticked up from 5.33 million in April to 5.36 million in May, representing the highest level since positions started getting tabulated in December 2000.

Despite a record number of job openings, new hires inched down a bit to 5 million in May from 5.03 million in April. The hiring rate slipped from 3.6 percent in April to 3.5 percent in May and "remains significantly below its pre-recession level," according to an analysis of the new survey by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a Washington, D.C. think tank.