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by guest
Fri Nov 20

Guest Article: Interfaith Leaders Press CHA To Preserve Housing At Lathrop Homes

The following was written by Chicago journalist Curtis Black.

Pastors invoked the Battle of Jericho -with the Chicago Housing Authority as the wall keeping people out of their promised land - at an Interfaith Call to Action rally demanding preservation of public housing at Lathrop Homes last week.

"There's a barrier standing in the way of thousands of people who need a home," said Rev. Bruce Ray of Kimball Avenue Church. "There's a barrier standing in the way of new homes in a land of promise...It's the Chicago Housing Authority."

As fellow pastors held up a wall with the letters "CHA" on it, Ray added, "CHA might as well stand for 'Can't House Anyone.'"

Quick Hit
by Op-Ed
Fri Nov 20

Op-Ed: Chicago Activist Details Ongoing Disappointment With Nation's Inaction On Immigrant Rights

The following is by Rosi Carrasco, an undocumented mother of two and migrant rights organizer with Organized Communities Against Deportations in Chicago, IL.

As we reach November 20th, I remember that night one year ago when immigrant families packed into a room together to watch the President announce executive action on immigration. He had already signaled that he'd be responding to the unprecedented community pressure against the record deportations that had surpassed two million at that point. He had publicly committed to reform inhumane policy and finally it looked like the delays would end.

Among us were friends who've called the U.S. home for 20 years but who haven't had children, others with kids born here and others without. There were already people who had doubts about what would happen, who had already had to fight their own removal or young people who didn't meet the criteria that would've made them eligible for the deferred action of 2012.

My family and I weren't in that category, but that's where we ended up by the end of the night. We arrived in the U.S. in the Spring of 1994, a history like many families, we came when our kids still small. We've lived, worked, and built lives here. Distant from where we came from, part of the labor of building a new life is learning to carry those we love close in our hearts even if they're physically so far away.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Thu Nov 19

O'Hare Security Workers Stage One-Day 'Unfair Labor Practice' Strike (VIDEO)

Security workers at O'Hare International Airport went on strike Thursday, alleging unfair labor practices by their employer Universal Security.

Fourteen out of 160 O'Hare security officers employed by Universal Security staged the one-day "unfair labor practice" strike to protest against alleged retaliation by their employer for speaking out about work conditions and organizing.

"These workers are the people who work hard to keep our passengers safe, but they work in a hostile environment each and every day and are constantly under the threat of losing their jobs," said Genie Kastrup, vice president and chief of staff with SEIU* Local 1.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Wed Nov 18

Chicago Homeless Advocates Roll Out Campaign To Improve Housing Stability For Families

In light of a new survey detailing the negative impact of homelessness on Chicago children, homeless advocates in the city launched a new campaign Wednesday aimed at improving housing stability and educational supports for families lacking stable homes.

Last school year, there were an estimated 13,054 families in Chicago who experienced homelessness, a number that has tripled over the past 12 years, advocates said at a morning press conference.

"Parents and, most especially, their children, are suffering in Chicago," said Eithne McMenamin, associate policy director at the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. "They are suffering the effects of unstable housing and the resulting educational instability."

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Tue Nov 17

Walmart Workers Fasting For $15 As Part Of Black Friday Protests

Walmart workers have stepped up their Black Friday protests against the mega retailer with a 15-day fast for a $15 minimum wage and full-time schedules.

Over 1,400 Walmart workers and their allies are participating in the fast, organized by the recently relaunched OUR Walmart campaign. In the run-up to Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving shopping frenzy, fasters are consuming a liquids-only diet for one to 15 days to draw attention to what they consider to be low wages and hours provided to Walmart workers.

The fast began last week and will culminate with Black Friday protests on November 27 at Walmart stores nationwide, including in Chicago and other Illinois cities.

"OUR Walmart's message to Walton heirs -- whose wealth has been greater than the bottom 42 percent of all American families combined -- is clear: while Walmart employees can barely put food on the table this Thanksgiving, Walmart continues to thrive as the largest supplier of groceries in the nation, while it lines the pockets of the Walton family with corporate greed," OUR Walmart said in statement. "Anything less than $15 and full-time is not enough for Walmart workers."

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Mon Nov 16

Gutierrez, Ramirez-Rosa Help Immigrants Apply For Citizenship, Gear Up For 2016 Election

Two Chicago-area elected officials are working to help legal immigrants in Illinois apply for citizenship ahead of next year's general election.

U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL,4) and Chicago Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) hosted a daylong workshop in the city Monday, during which immigrants could get assistance with citizenship and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) applications. 

Gutierrez -- who has spearheaded other citizenship workshops this year and a cross-country tour educating the immigrant community about President Barack Obama's pending executive actions on immigration -- said Monday's event was part of a nationwide effort by immigrant advocates "to help hundreds of thousands of people become American citizens."

"And they'll be ready for the next election," he said.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Thu Nov 12

Paul Vallas Voices Support For A 'Hybrid' Elected School Board In Chicago

Paul Vallas, the former head of the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) district, says the city should have a "hybrid" school board with both voter-elected and mayor-appointed members.

He spoke Wednesday night at an elected school board forum hosted by state Rep. Ann Williams (D-Chicago) at the Athenaeum Theatre on Chicago's North Side. 

Other panelists at the discussion included Wendy Katten with the Raise Your Hand coalition and Eric "Rico" Gutstein, a professor in curriculum and instruction at the University of Illinois at Chicago. 

"I believe that you do need elected members of the school board," said Vallas, who was the CPS CEO from 1995 to 2001 and also ran schools in New Orleans, Philadelphia and Bridgeport, Connecticut. "I believe that you do need transparency."

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Wed Nov 11

Illinois Advocates Launch Campaign For State Legislation To Help Undocumented Students

Student and immigrant advocates are stepping up efforts to pass state legislation aimed at improving college access and affordability for undocumented Illinoisans.

Supporters of the "Student Access Bill" packed a conference room at the University of Illinois at Chicago Wednesday afternoon to launch their advocacy campaign for the legislation.

The measure would let undocumented Illinois students who meet certain requirements compete for state-funded financial aid and scholarship opportunities at public, four-year universities.

Currently, undocumented immigrants in Illinois are ineligible for public university scholarships, grants, waivers and other forms of financial assistance. They also cannot obtain federal student aid.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Tue Nov 10

Low-Wage Workers March In Downtown Chicago, Push For Fight For $15 Political Agenda (VIDEO)

Hundreds of low-wage Chicago workers and their allies hit the city's downtown streets Tuesday evening to call for a $15 an hour minimum wage, union recognition and other items on their new "voter agenda."

The protest, which started at the Thompson Center and ended with a march to a nearby McDonald's at Clark and Lake streets, was one among many Fight for $15 actions happening Tuesday in 500 U.S. cities.

Fast food and other low-wage workers chanted, "What do we want? $15! When do we want it? Now!"