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PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
5:30pm
Wed May 14, 2014

Illinois Residents, Environmental Groups Sound The Alarm On Coal Ash Dangers

Illinois environmental groups and residents say the state's proposed draft rules for coal ash pits at power plant sites fall short when it comes to protecting the public from a "coal ash catastrophe." Progress Illinois details why environmentalists are calling for stronger coal ash regulations at the state level.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
11:18am
Tue May 13, 2014

Illinois Bill Looks To Ban Criminal History Questions From Private Employer Job Applications

Illinois could soon become the fifth U.S. state to "ban the box" that inquires about criminal history on initial applications for most private sector jobs.

The state House recently voted 63-53 to approve the "Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act," which would require private employers or employment agencies in Illinois with 15 or more employees to evaluate an applicant's skills and qualifications before asking about criminal history. Under the measure, sponsored by State Rep. Rita Mayfield (D-Waukegan), employers would be allowed to conduct background checks and request conviction information from applicants, but not until later in the interviewing process. 

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
4:27pm
Fri May 9, 2014

Sodexo Workers Rally To Save Food Service Jobs At The Thompson Center (VIDEO)

In the face of expected layoffs, food service workers from the Thompson Center cafeteria rallied Friday morning in downtown Chicago, calling on Gov. Pat Quinn to protect their jobs in the building that houses his local office.

“We need Quinn to step in and save our jobs, we’re in his house, serving his employees and—while he’s saying he wants to raise the minimum wage—we’re about to be unemployed,” said Sharon Nix, 35, a contract Sodexo employee at the James R. Thompson Center, at 100 W. Randolph St., for roughly 13 years.

Nix’s manager at Sandella’s Flatbread Café told workers in April that Sodexo, one of the nation's largest contracted food and facilities companies, plans to leave its post at the Thompson Center’s Great State Fare cafeteria by June 30, she said. Nix claims she was told she and her colleagues would be laid off, and would have to reapply for a position with the new company that takes Sodexo’s place.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
4:30pm
Tue May 6, 2014

Environmental Group Blasts IDNR For Paying 'Industry Front Groups' To Review Draft Fracking Rules

An environmental group is up in arms after learning that the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) apparently paid more than $35,000 to oil and gas "industry front groups" to review draft rules related to the state's Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act, which Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law in June.

IDNR released its first draft of the Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act's administrative rules on November 15. The agency is currently weighing some 35,000 public comments it received on the state's proposed rules for the controversial horizontal oil and gas drilling technology. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is the practice of releasing Earth's natural gas by horizontally drilling with a high-pressure mixture of water, sand or gravel, and chemicals to create cracks in deep layers of shale rock.

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