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Minimum wage
Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
7:28pm
Thu Sep 18

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. Read more »

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
12:44pm
Wed Sep 17

Census Bureau: Child Poverty Rate Falls Substantially, Number Of Uninsured Ticks Down

America's poverty rate declined from 15 percent in 2012 to 14.5 percent last year, marking the first statistically significant decrease since 2006, according to new figures from the U.S. Census Bureau.

An increase in the number of year-round, full-time workers helped lower the overall poverty rate, Census Bureau officials said. Between 2012 and 2013, the number of men and women working full time, year-round with earnings increased by 1.8 million and 1.0 million, respectively, the figures showed. In 2013, a total of 60.8 million men and 45.1 million worked full-time.

The child poverty rate also dropped significantly from 21.8 percent in 2012 to 19.9 percent in 2013, while the share of uninsured Americans also fell slightly during the same time.

Despite bright spots in the new Census reports on income, poverty and health insurance, Robert Greenstein with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said the economy strengthened too slowly in 2013 "to improve the living standards of many middle- and low-income Americans." Read more »

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

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." Read more »

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
9:32am
Wed Sep 10

Public Interest Group Gives Republican IL Lawmakers 'Poor' Marks On Legislative Scorecard

A new legislative scorecard highlights just how politically polarized the Illinois state legislature is on social and economic justice issues.

Citizen Action/Illinois, a public interest organization and a progressive political coalition, released its 98th General Assembly scorecard last week, and no state Republican legislator scored higher than a "poor" rating.

Overall, 45 state representatives and 19 state senators, all of whom are Republicans, received "poor" scores between 10 percent to 49 percent. Meanwhile, no Democratic state lawmaker scored lower than 50 percent.

The scorecard, which gauges "each official’s dedication to social and economic justice," is based on a selection of significant votes taken by the 98th General Assembly, which started in January 2013 and ends after the upcoming fall veto session. Citizen Action/Illinois analyzed 25 votes in the House and 23 votes in the Senate on legislation involving health care, education, consumer protection, civil rights and other topics. Read more »

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
4:15pm
Thu Sep 4

Chicagoland Fast Food Workers Strike For Higher Wages; 31 Arrests Made (VIDEO)

Chicago fast food workers escalated their fight on Thursday for a $15 hourly wage and union rights by participating in acts of civil disobedience during a nationwide day of strikes. Progress Illinois was there for today's protests.