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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
7:09pm
Tue Aug 25

What's The Status Of Women's Equality In Illinois?

Ahead of Women's Equality Day on Wednesday, a new study shows Illinois is the third most equal state for women. But don't get too cheery over the findings, independent experts say. 

WalletHub, the personal finance website, ranked all 50 U.S. states on gender equality in three areas: education, political empowerment and workplace environment. Illinois had the third best overall ranking, behind New York at No.2 and Hawaii at No. 1. Utah earned the worst ranking.

A leader with the Chicago-based advocacy group Women Employed was pleased to see Illinois come in third for women's equality. However, the ranking "doesn't mean things are primarily good for women in Illinois," stressed Women Employed's Associate Director Jenny Wittner.

"It just means that by certain measures (conditions are) better than other states," she said.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
12:20pm
Thu Aug 6

Northwest Side Chicagoans: State Budget Cuts & Poverty Wages Are Hurting Our Communities

Chicago Northwest Side residents attended a town hall meeting Wednesday night to speak out against budget cuts and the "poverty wages" impacting their communities.

Those at the town hall, hosted by Communities United, formerly the Albany Park Neighborhood Council, called for progressive revenue options to tackle the city and state's fiscal issues and highlighted their support for a $15 hourly minimum wage in Chicago.

"Because of budget cuts, essential programs are being cut for our young people and community, and students are being denied educational programs," said Communities United leader Manolita Huber. "And because of poverty wages, low-wage workers can't even afford to pay the rent, let alone put food on the table."

Quick Hit
by Op-Ed
3:51pm
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.

Quick Hit
by Aaron Cynic
4:04pm
Mon Jun 22

Illinois Fast Food Workers Rally In Solidarity With New Yorkers Testifying For $15 Minimum Wage

Nearly 100 fast food workers and community activists picketed outside the McDonald's restaurant adjacent to the Chicago Board of Trade to show solidarity with workers in New York who are testifying at the last wage board hearing called by the state's governor, Andrew Cuomo, to recommend an increase to the minimum wage.

The demonstrators also called on Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner to put a stop to proposed state budget cuts that would impact home and child care workers.

Holding signs that read "New York, Chicago has your back" and "We need raises, not cuts," demonstrators spoke passionately about how a wage increase to $15 an hour would improve their lives -- and how Rauner's proposed budget cuts could harm working families.

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
4:44pm
Wed Jun 17

Chicago City Council Roundup: $1B Borrowing OK'ed, Minimum Wage Fight Continues

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

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
6:16pm
Fri Jun 12

Report: Low Wages In Full-Service Restaurant Industry Cost Taxpayers $9.4 Billion Annually

Many full-service restaurant industry workers are forced to seek public aid to supplement their low wages and lack of benefits, and that leaves U.S. taxpayers with a $9.4 billion tab each year.

That's according to a recent report by Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC). The restaurant worker advocacy group found that nearly half of the more than 4 million full-service restaurant workers live in households enrolled in at least one public assistance program.

Of that $9.4 billion, $1.4 billion represents the public cost of low-end pay and benefits provided at the country's five largest full-service restaurant companies, which collectively earned $704 million in profits and paid their chief executives $27 million in the last year alone, according to ROC.

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