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PI Original
by Ashlee Rezin
2:25am
Thu Apr 16

On Tax Day, Thousands Join Fight For $15 Protest In Chicago (VIDEO)

More than 5,000 low-wage workers and their allies rallied at the University of Illinois at Chicago and protested throughout the city's downtown streets during a national day of strikes Wednesday afternoon – Tax Day – to call for a $15 minimum wage and union recognition. Progress Illinois was there for the action.

Quick Hit
by Aaron Cynic
5:23pm
Wed Apr 15

A Look At The Morning Fight For 15 Protests In Chicago (VIDEO)

Workers fighting for higher wages and the right to unionize began a series of day-long rallies and speak-outs this morning in what organizers say will be the largest mobilization of low wage workers to date. Coordinated protests by the Fight for 15 movement and its allies are taking place in more than 200 cities in 30 countries with workers from multiple industries demanding a $15 an hour wage and better working conditions.

In Chicago, workers and their supporters rallied at numerous McDonald's locations across the city, beginning with an early morning demonstration that drew 200 at a South Side restaurant location at 8321 S. Ashland. The protests, led by fast food workers, have also drawn home care, child care and airport workers as well as college students, adjunct professors and Brink's armored car and armed security guards.

"I scrap and scrape and stress all day, every day," said Douglas Hunter, a 53-year-old maintenance worker at a McDonald's location on Chicago's West side. Hunter, who has a 16-year-old daughter, has participated in numerous strikes for more than a year. He said low wages contribute to the degradation of neighborhoods.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
7:34pm
Tue Apr 14

LGBT Women Face Many Barriers To Economic Security, Report Finds

Lesbian, bisexual and transgender or LGBT adult women in America face unique obstacles to achieve basic economic security and are among the most likely to live in poverty, according to a recent report by the Center for American Progress and the Movement Advancement Project.

The report cites employment discrimination as well as barriers to health care and family supports as some of the key challenges threatening LGBT women and their economic well-being.

America's more than 5 million LGBT women are at increased risk for financial insecurity due to stigma, discrimination as well as anti-LGBT and outdated policies, according to the researchers.

"Even at a time when the public is showing increased understanding and acceptance of LGBT people and their relationships, the unique concerns and struggles of LGBT women are largely absent in the national conversation," said Laura Durso, director of the LGBT Research and Communications Project at the Center for American Progress, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. "Women who are LGBT have the same concerns as other women, but they face added challenges and worries -- not just because of their gender, but also because of who they are and whom they love."

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
6:11pm
Mon Apr 13

Despite Initial Surge, Local & Federal Policies Tamp Out Renewable Energy Growth In Illinois

A recent report by the Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC) shows that over 400 Illinois companies are now tapped into the state's clean energy supply chain for solar and wind projects.

The local solar industry supply chain includes 237 Illinois companies, including those providing installation, electrical and consulting services. The other 170 Illinois companies are working in the state's wind industry supply chain, comprised of manufacturers and diagnostic software designers as well as engineering, legal, financial and consulting firms. Collectively, the 400 plus Illinois wind and solar companies employ more than 20,000 workers, according to the report.

By comparison, there were 152 wind and 96 solar companies tied to the Illinois clean energy supply chain in 2011, according to a previous ELPC analysis.

"When a wind turbine goes up in rural Illinois, it doesn't sprout from the ground," said ELPC's Executive Director Howard Learner. "Every piece of that turbine and that wind machine ... (is) manufactured by skilled laborers and manufacturing workers" at firms located in Cicero, Elgin and Rockford, to name a few places.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
6:07pm
Fri Apr 10

Report Outlines Reforms To Strengthen Illinois Charter School Oversight

The oversight system of charter schools in Illinois contains "fundamental flaws" that need to be revamped in order to prevent fraud, argues a report by Action Now and the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD).

The report -- which pointed to the scandal involving insider deals at the charter school operator United Neighborhood Organization (UNO) as a more recent example of the need for stronger oversight -- noted that over $13 million in charter school fraud, waste or abuse has been uncovered in Illinois since the legislature passed a 1996 law allowing charters to open in the state.

As a result of the state's "lack of transparency and necessary oversight," there are likely more instances in which funds were inappropriately used in the Illinois charter system than has been reported, the researchers claim. According to their estimate, charter school fraud in Illinois tallied up to nearly $28 million in the last year alone.

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