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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
2:15pm
Fri Feb 20

Report: 2014 Wages Stayed Flat Or Declined For Almost All U.S. Workers

Real hourly wages remained flat or fell for nearly all U.S. workers in 2014, including those with a college degree, according to an analysis of new wage data by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a liberal think tank.

"Last year was yet another year of poor wage growth for American workers," reads EPI's study, which looked at the most recent and available wage data by decile and educational attainment. Wage data was examined for workers in the bottom 10th percentile up to the 95th percentile.

In 2014, real wages among top earners fell by 1 percent at the 95th percentile and 0.7 percent at the 90th percentile, according to the analysis released Thursday. U.S. workers with either a four-year college degree or an advanced degree also saw their inflation-adjusted hourly wages drop by 1.3 percent and 2.2 percent, respectively.

Quick Hit
by Aricka Flowers
6:41pm
Thu Feb 19

Obama Designates Pullman District National Monument, Praises Emanuel Days Before Election

President Barack Obama was in Chicago Thursday to designate the Pullman factory district as a national monument. With a stroke of the president's pen, the Pullman Historic District is now a national monument, and the city's first national park. The new monument's boundaries are 103rd Street to the north, 115th Street to the south, Cottage Grove Avenue to the west, and the Norfolk & Western Rail Line to the east.

In his speech at the designation ceremony, which was attended by Gov. Bruce Rauner -- who has a reputation for being a union antagonist, Obama highlighted the importance of labor unions, saying "As Americans, we believe workers' rights are civil rights."

"Gradually our country would add protections that we now take for granted: a 40-hour workweek, the weekend, overtime pay, safe workplace conditions and the right to organize for higher wages and better opportunities," the president said. "So this site is at the heart of what would become America's labor movement -- and as a consequence, at the heart of what would become America's middle class."

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
12:25pm
Wed Feb 18

Chicago's 36th Ward Candidates Discuss Education, Campaign Priorities (VIDEO)

A week before Chicago's municipal election, three of four aldermanic candidates in the 36th Ward participated in a public forum Tuesday night in the Belmont Cragin neighborhood.

Those vying for the Northwest Side ward seat, left vacant by Ald. Nick Sposato (36th) who is running in the 38th ward due to the city's ward remap, include business owner Christopher Vittorio, reference librarian Alonso Zaragoza, and Omar Aquino, a former employee of U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D, IL-8). Business owner Gilbert Villegas is also running for the seat, but did not attend Tuesday's event.

Roughly 50 residents of the 36th Ward, which includes portions of the Belmont Cragin, Portage Park, Montclare, Galewood, Dunning and Hermosa neighborhoods, attended the debate hosted by the Communities United organization.

Quick Hit
by La Risa Lynch
7:32pm
Tue Feb 17

Stamps Centers Campaign Around Education In Chicago's 37th Ward Race

Community activist Marion Stamps fought for the rights of public housing residents displaced by the demolition of the Cabrini Green housing development on the near North Side when she ran for 27th Ward alderman in 1995.

Twenty years later, her daughter, Tara Stamps, is fighting in that same vein, but focusing her fight on education. She is among four challengers, including Leroy Duncan, Maretta Brown-Miller and Otis Percy, running against West Side Ald. Emma Mitts (37th) in the February 24 municipal election.

The 2013 closing of 50 Chicago Public Schools, an influx of charter schools, and excessive red light and speed camera fines are examples of the failed policies that have led to disinvestment in black and Latino neighborhoods, according to Stamps. The time was right, she added, to stand up against such actions.

"While I still have my mother's passion, and I share many of her beliefs about community, this fight is my fight," said the mother of three and teacher of 18 years. "It's authentic to me because I understand how all of this is connected to education."

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
6:38pm
Tue Feb 17

Gutierrez, Illinois Immigration Reformers Call Judge's Ruling A 'Temporary Setback' (VIDEO)

U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL,4) says educational outreach around President Barack Obama's executive actions on immigration will press ahead, despite a federal judge's ruling on Monday that temporarily stalled the administration's deportation relief plans.

The Obama administration is expected to appeal the judge's ruling, which comes in response to a lawsuit filed by a group of 26 mostly Republican-run states seeking to stop the president's immigration directives. Illinois has not joined the lawsuit, which claims the two immigration executive orders signed by Obama in November are unconstitutional. The federal judge, Andrew Hanen of the Federal District Court for the Southern District of Texas, determined that the states met the minimum requirements needed to proceed with the lawsuit. 

Hanen's temporary injunction blocks Obama's two new immigration programs from taking effect before the case is decided. The application process for one of the new immigration policies was slated to launch Wednesday.

At a Tuesday morning press conference in Chicago, Gutierrez and leaders with SEIU* and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) called the judge's decision a "temporary setback" that won't derail their efforts to help immigrants prepare for administrative relief.

"This process can be delayed, but we as a community will not be deterred," Gutierrez said, adding that he believes Obama's new immigration policies will ultimately prevail after the legal process plays out. "Let's make it absolutely clear that the president's actions are well established in legal precedent."

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
3:03pm
Mon Feb 16

Report: Progressive Activism Must Target The Fed, Monetary Policy

A new report from the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank, argues that the Federal Reserve should be receiving more scrutiny from progressive activists.

EPI research associate Thomas Palley wrote the report, which also serves as a primer on the how the Federal Reserve, or the Fed, works and offers a blueprint on how to make monetary policy more "job- and wage-friendly."

Over the three decades prior to the Great Recession, Palley says the Fed, the central bank of the United States, "consistently took care of Wall Street first while not caring much about Main Street."

"Since the Great Recession, there has been some shift toward helping ordinary Americans, but even more is needed, and we fervently hope that [Fed] Chair [Janet] Yellen sees this," said Palley, who also serves as AFL-CIO's senior economic policy adviser.

Quick Hit
by
1:02pm
Thu Feb 12

Op-Ed: "Black Lives Matter!" Our Attitude Toward The Elections In Chicago

The following comes from the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression.

What are the mayoral and aldermanic elections really about? There are a host of gut level issues raised by the various candidates that seem to address public education, job creation and unemployment, elimination of pension funds, public safety, the housing crisis, the health care crisis, MBE/WBE Independent Contractors, and all the ancillary issues that lie dormant in the social savagery created by budget cuts that further impoverish the poor and enrich the rich. But what about the racism, driven by an ever-deepening economic crisis and the political delirium of the powers that be, that is casting a shadow over all these issues? Ah! Therein lies the problem; everybody is ignoring the racist cutting edge of all the gut level issues afflicting our City, and getting away with it.

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
11:35am
Wed Feb 11

Victory for Workers: Cook Co. Board Passes Anti-Wage Theft Law (VIDEO)

The Cook County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday unanimously passed legislation that aims to protect employee wages and force businesses to more closely follow labor laws.

Under the ordinance, companies or business owners found guilty of wage theft are barred for five years from obtaining Cook County procurement contracts, business licenses or property tax incentives. Also, companies pursuing business with the county will now have to certify compliance with federal and state wage and labor laws.

"[Wage theft] is unfair to hard-working employees and their families and it's unfair to competing businesses which are operating within the confines of the law," said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, shortly after Tuesday's vote. "The legislation passed today will make Cook County a national leader targeting wage theft."

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
10:57am
Wed Feb 11

Chicago's 32nd Ward Aldermanic Candidates Trade Jabs At Lakeview Forum

The two aldermanic candidates in Chicago's 32nd Ward race traded barbs throughout a Tuesday evening political forum, with incumbent Ald. Scott Waguespack coming under attack for his "personality conflicts" and challenger Elise Doody-Jones taking heat over her residency.

A pro-Mayor Rahm Emanuel super PAC's involvement in the 32nd Ward race was also discussed at the candidate forum, hosted by the South Lakeview Neighbors at the Athenaeum Theater, 2936 N. Southport Ave.

Chicago's 32nd Ward includes parts of Bucktown, Lake View, Lincoln Park, Logan Square, Roscoe Village and Wicker Park.

Waguespack, who has held the 32nd Ward seat since 2007, is a member of the city council's Progressive Reform Caucus. Doody-Jones is a small business owner who formerly served as treasurer of 1st Ward First, an independent political organization in Chicago's 1st Ward that supports the ward's current alderman, Joe Moreno.

Doody-Jones presently resides in the neighboring 1st Ward but says she will move to the 32nd Ward, if elected. She was asked about her residency at the top of Tuesday's forum, to which Doody-Jones explained that her Logan Square home is located just outside the ward's remapped boundaries.

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