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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
6:37pm
Mon Apr 20

Report: 2014 Wall Street Bonuses Were Double The Earnings Of 1 Million Low-Wage Workers

recent report from the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) reveals that Wall Street employees received $28.5 billion in combined bonuses last year.

That works out to be double the collective annual earnings of the more than one million full-time U.S. workers who made the federal minimum wage in 2014. At the national level, the hourly minimum wage is $7.25.

The $28.5 billion in bonuses was spread out among 167,800 Wall Street bank employees, according to the Washington, D.C.-based think tank.

"The size of the [2014 Wall Street] bonus pool was 27 percent higher than in 2009, the last time Congress increased the minimum wage," reads the report, "Off the Deep End: The Wall Street Bonus Pool and Low-Wage Workers."

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
2:44pm
Fri Apr 17

Report: Irregular Work Scheduling Affects 17 Percent Of U.S. Workers

Unstable work schedules impact at least 17 percent of the U.S. workforce, with low-wage workers facing irregular shift times the most.

That's according to a new report from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a Washington, D.C. think tank. The report, "Irregular Work Scheduling and its Consequences," is based on General Social Survey data.

Ten percent of U.S. workers have "irregular and on-call work shift times," combined with another 7 percent "who work split or rotating shifts," according to the research.

Low-wage workers are among the most prone to having unstable schedules, which are associated with longer average hourly workweeks in some occupations. Employees in low-wage industries often have little control over their schedules, the findings showed.

According to the report, irregular scheduling is most common in the following industries: retail trade; finance, insurance, real estate; business, repair services; personal services; entertainment, recreation; and agriculture.

Quick Hit
by Aaron Cynic
5:23pm
Wed Apr 15

A Look At The Morning Fight For 15 Protests In Chicago (VIDEO)

Workers fighting for higher wages and the right to unionize began a series of day-long rallies and speak-outs this morning in what organizers say will be the largest mobilization of low wage workers to date. Coordinated protests by the Fight for 15 movement and its allies are taking place in more than 200 cities in 30 countries with workers from multiple industries demanding a $15 an hour wage and better working conditions.

In Chicago, workers and their supporters rallied at numerous McDonald's locations across the city, beginning with an early morning demonstration that drew 200 at a South Side restaurant location at 8321 S. Ashland. The protests, led by fast food workers, have also drawn home care, child care and airport workers as well as college students, adjunct professors and Brink's armored car and armed security guards.

"I scrap and scrape and stress all day, every day," said Douglas Hunter, a 53-year-old maintenance worker at a McDonald's location on Chicago's West side. Hunter, who has a 16-year-old daughter, has participated in numerous strikes for more than a year. He said low wages contribute to the degradation of neighborhoods.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
7:34pm
Tue Apr 14

LGBT Women Face Many Barriers To Economic Security, Report Finds

Lesbian, bisexual and transgender or LGBT adult women in America face unique obstacles to achieve basic economic security and are among the most likely to live in poverty, according to a recent report by the Center for American Progress and the Movement Advancement Project.

The report cites employment discrimination as well as barriers to health care and family supports as some of the key challenges threatening LGBT women and their economic well-being.

America's more than 5 million LGBT women are at increased risk for financial insecurity due to stigma, discrimination as well as anti-LGBT and outdated policies, according to the researchers.

"Even at a time when the public is showing increased understanding and acceptance of LGBT people and their relationships, the unique concerns and struggles of LGBT women are largely absent in the national conversation," said Laura Durso, director of the LGBT Research and Communications Project at the Center for American Progress, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. "Women who are LGBT have the same concerns as other women, but they face added challenges and worries -- not just because of their gender, but also because of who they are and whom they love."

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
6:11pm
Mon Apr 13

Despite Initial Surge, Local & Federal Policies Tamp Out Renewable Energy Growth In Illinois

A recent report by the Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC) shows that over 400 Illinois companies are now tapped into the state's clean energy supply chain for solar and wind projects.

The local solar industry supply chain includes 237 Illinois companies, including those providing installation, electrical and consulting services. The other 170 Illinois companies are working in the state's wind industry supply chain, comprised of manufacturers and diagnostic software designers as well as engineering, legal, financial and consulting firms. Collectively, the 400 plus Illinois wind and solar companies employ more than 20,000 workers, according to the report.

By comparison, there were 152 wind and 96 solar companies tied to the Illinois clean energy supply chain in 2011, according to a previous ELPC analysis.

"When a wind turbine goes up in rural Illinois, it doesn't sprout from the ground," said ELPC's Executive Director Howard Learner. "Every piece of that turbine and that wind machine ... (is) manufactured by skilled laborers and manufacturing workers" at firms located in Cicero, Elgin and Rockford, to name a few places.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
6:07pm
Fri Apr 10

Report Outlines Reforms To Strengthen Illinois Charter School Oversight

The oversight system of charter schools in Illinois contains "fundamental flaws" that need to be revamped in order to prevent fraud, argues a report by Action Now and the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD).

The report -- which pointed to the scandal involving insider deals at the charter school operator United Neighborhood Organization (UNO) as a more recent example of the need for stronger oversight -- noted that over $13 million in charter school fraud, waste or abuse has been uncovered in Illinois since the legislature passed a 1996 law allowing charters to open in the state.

As a result of the state's "lack of transparency and necessary oversight," there are likely more instances in which funds were inappropriately used in the Illinois charter system than has been reported, the researchers claim. According to their estimate, charter school fraud in Illinois tallied up to nearly $28 million in the last year alone.

Quick Hit
by Op-Ed
5:55pm
Wed Apr 8

Op-Ed: Thousands Call On Rauner To Undo Pound-Foolish Cuts To Important Investments

The following comes from the Illinois Coalition of Immigrant and Refugee Rights.

Immigrant women in need of help securing orders of protection against abusive spouses. Elderly people seeking medical treatments. Autistic Illinoisans and their families. The disabled, the addicted, the young. When Governor Rauner took a last-minute knife to social service investments in this fiscal year's budget, he aimed for Illinois's most vulnerable populations--and he hit his mark. That was the message at a Wednesday rally at the Thompson Center, where the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) brought together hundreds of supporters representing a broad array of those who will suffer due to the Governor's suspension of a wide variety of spending that supports investments in some of Illinois's most underprivileged communities.

"What the Governor did, as the clock ran out on the Friday before a holiday weekend, is not just a slap in the face to the immigrant community after he stood with us earlier this year and told us how important we are to Illinois," said Lawrence Benito, CEO of ICIRR. "It's an affront to the millions of Illinoisans who rely on these investments in order to pursue self-sufficiency. These are cuts that enable economic success; cutting them is pennywise and pound-foolish. It's the height of irony: Governor Rauner, who portrays himself as a savvy businessman, seems oblivious to the returns on the state's investment in immigrant and other disadvantaged communities."

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
12:49pm
Mon Apr 6

Report: Recent Generations Of Illinoisans Inheriting Warmer, More 'Dangerous' Climate

A new report tracking the effects of climate change over the last five generations of Americans shows young people in Illinois and across the country have inherited a "hotter, more extreme" climate.

For its "Dangerous Inheritance" report, the Environment America Research and Policy Center examined changes in average temperatures, precipitation and sea-level rise over the course of five generations -- from the Baby Boomers to Generation Z, defined as those born between 1995 to 2009. Researchers include climate projections for today's Generation Alpha, or those born between 2010 and 2025.

Younger generations in Illinois and across the country are facing warmer temperatures plus more frequent and extreme storms than when the Baby Boomers were entering adulthood, according to the report.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
2:57pm
Tue Mar 31

Chicago's Fight For $15 Campaign To Expand Beyond Fast Food Workers (VIDEO)

Fast food workers with the Fight for $15 campaign are set to strike on April 15 in 200 U.S. cities, including Chicago, as part of a national day of action for higher wages and union recognition.

They will be joined on the picket lines by a growing number of low-wage workers and allies as the movement for better pay and working conditions continues to expand to industries beyond fast food. Chicago adjunct professors, college students, cab drivers, child care workers and leaders with the "Black Lives Matter" movement are among those who will be protesting with fast food employees on April 15, organizers said during a Tuesday news conference.

The April 15 strikes and protests across Chicago will culminate with a large rally near the University of Illinois at Chicago's student center in the late afternoon, workers said. 

April 15 will mark the eighth time Chicago fast food workers have walked off the job since 2012, when the fast food industry was first targeted by striking employees in New York City before the Fight for $15 campaign gained traction across the country. Those with the Fight for $15 movement have been pushing for union recognition and a $15 minimum wage, which is a yearly salary of about $31,000 -- enough to cover workers' basic needs, according to organizers.

"This thing is growing so fast," Chicago McDonald's worker Douglas Hunter said of the Fight for $15. "Two years ago, when this movement started out, all we wanted was $15 an hour and the right to form a union ... The Fight for $15 is grown up now. We're now a social justice movement."

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