In their latest movement against “corporate welfare,” local community leaders lead by the Grassroots Collaborative hit the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
With 10 children in school desks on the sidewalk on Monroe Street near Wacker Drive in Chicago, the so-called “street-theater” demonstration was staged as a class. Its main lesson: how tax increment financing takes away money from schools.
About forty people protested the Chicago Mercantile Exchange this morning, according to organizers, because the company was paid out $15 million from the LaSalle/Central TIF district, despite profits hitting $951 million last year. The TIF money was allegedly spent to renovate the Chicago Board of Trade’s bathrooms. CME Group, Inc. -- the world's biggest futures exchange company -- is the parent company of both the Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trade and has threatened the state that it could consider relocating if it can't get more tax incentives.
The protesters attempted to meet with executives at CME but were turned away. While the $15 million would have hardly made a dent in the Chicago Public Schools system’s $700-plus million deficit, teachers, parents and many from the Chicago Teachers Union rallied on the principle that it is wrong to take taxpayer money from public education to benefit private multi-million dollar corporations, like the CME.
“I was a teacher for more than 20 years. I loved my job and I loved my students,” Maria Marquez, a laid-off teacher said. “How can they lay us off and tell us there’s no money, then turn around and give $15 million to the CME? Kids and education should come first.”
Thursday’s event is one of multiple visits the Grassroots Collaborative is spearheading as part of its “Corporate Welfare Tour.” United Airlines and Miller Coors can both expect a visit in the near future, the collaborative's Ashley Moy-Wooten said.
Check out this video by Grassroots Collaborative: