The 19-day strike that 15,000 construction workers carried out in northeastern Illinois this past July will likely go down as the biggest work stoppage in the country in 2010, barring unforseen circumstances in the last days of 2010, according to strike records kept by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Nationwide, there had been 10 strikes carried out by at least 1,000 workers through this past November, marking an uptick over '09, when there were just five major strikes during the same time span. By way of comparison, the BLS tracked 39 major work stoppages throughout the course of 2000. (To view these numbers yourself, click here and retrieve data for the second-to-last option.)
There are other strikes going on around the country and in Illinois, of course, and a full list of them can be downloaded from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. Throughout 2010, for example, UNITE-HERE Local 1 members have carried out wildcat and one-day strikes against Chicago-area hoteliers. And two strikes are ongoing in Illinois. One is taking place in Decatur, where 20 employees of a printing plant walked out in June; AFSCME and its staff union recently donated $10,000 to help the striking printers, the Herald-Review reports.
In Metropolis, Illinois, a small community perched on the banks of the Ohio River in the far southern part of the state, around 230 unionized uranium workers have been striking against Honeywell since June, when contract talks broke down and Honeywell locked them out of their jobs. The Associated Press recently visited the town to take stock of the situation:
Darrell Lillie, president of the United Steelworkers local, said
Honeywell wants to do away with worker seniority and farm out more
work to contractors. "If we accept what's on the table right now,
we'd be crushed as a union," Lillie said.
As poverty and extreme povertyrise throughout Illinois, it shouldn't come as a surprise that more and more people are having a hard time accessing food. The director of a food bank in Peoria recently said that demand was up as much as 50 percent from a year ago. In Chicago, the number of people turning to food pantries is at an all-time high. The timing couldn't be better for an announcement this morning from Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who said her office would distribute $1.2 million to food banks in each of Illinois' 102 counties. The money stems from a settlement reached with vitamin manufacturers.
But that will likely be just a drop in the bucket. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the Greater Chicago Food Depository (GCFD) has seen a 36 percent increase in the number of people seeking assistance since 2006. Between July and October of this year, food pantries throughout the Chicago area fed 1.7 million visitors.
In a column last week, Esther J. Cepeda spoke with GCFD executive Kate Maehr about the difference people can make. Maehr said, "Sometimes it is the small and simple acts of generosity -- a gift of one dollar from someone who doesn't have much to share, or the contribution of one can of soup in the food drive bin -- that has the biggest impact."
The U.S. Senate might very well repeal the reprehensible Don't Ask,
Don't Tell policy and pass the DREAM Act before the lame duck session
officially ends on January 5. But massive spending cuts are likely on
the way early next year, thanks to U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk and his
colleagues in the Republican caucus.
Last night in Washington, Republicans effectively killed
a $1.1 trillion dollar omnibus spending bill that had been negotiated
for close to a year. Several GOP senators, including Kirk, expressed a
willingness to filibuster the legislation because it contained earmarks
(requested by both parties), even if it meant shutting down government
operations entirely. Aware that he didn't have enough support to win a
cloture vote, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) pulled the bill.
Now, according to TPM, Reid and Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
are negotiating a short-term spending resolution
that will give the GOP-lead House a chance in February to set spending
levels for 2011. Expect them to be far lower than they are currently.
the Senate floor last night, Kirk and U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)
gloated about their victory. "So for economic conservatives," Kirk
cackled rhetorically, "a 1,924-page bill just died?" "A 1,924-page bill
just died," McCain responded laughing. Illinois' junior senator talked
about the deal on WLS' Don Wade and Roma this morning. Listen (full clip is here):
be clear about what this development will mean in practice. U.S. Rep.
Paul Ryan (R-WI) is the incoming House Budget chairman. His "Roadmap
for America’s Future," if implemented in full, would actually increase the deficit
by 2020 to the tune of $1.3 trillion by slashing taxes on the rich.
Domestic priorities like education and benefits for the poor and
middle-class won't be protected, either. This is not a win for fiscal
conservatives. It's a win for the wealthy.