The Boeing Company's engineers and technical workers have been working under a contract that expired Nov. 25. Boeing's first offer to the 23,000 or so workers was roundly rejected, since then SPEEA, the union that represents the workers, has been negotiating with the Chicago-based company. The biggest sticking points are regarding annual pay raises for the workers, which consist of two groups: the engineers and the technical workers, who basically serve as go-betweens for the engineers and those who work on the manufacturing floor.
Because same-sex marraige was recently made legal in Washington, the union has also been advocating for same-sex partners to receive pension benefits, which has emerged as another source of contention during the negotiations.
Both the union and Boeing have set up competing websites regarding the negotiations. It's not clear how close the sides are towards an actual strike, but last week, Boeing asked a federal mediator to step in. So far, the union has agreed to have the mediator observe the talks, but Boeing wants the mediator to be more involved.
$15 pay for fast-food workers?
Saying that McDonald's and other fast food companies can afford to pay it, a union-backed group called Stand Up! Chicago is trying to push a union for downtown retail and fast food workers to get paid at least $15 an hour. It's the same campaign that started recently in New York City. Organizers so far say they are trying to build support for something similar here.
Sales Tax holiday benefits
A new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago finds a significant improvement in spending from sales tax holidays. Don't get to exicted - we haven't had a sales tax holiday in Illinois since 2010, and none are in the works here or in neighboring states of Wisconsin or Indiana. Using credit card data, Fed economists found that sales tax holidays boosted overall spending at least 8 percent, and for items like shoes and children's clothing, as much as 98 percent and 193 percent, respectively. The obvious question is whether or not people would have spent that money regardless, since back to school shopping happens anyways - but the economists accounted for that, too, and concluded that sales tax holidays have an actual impact, so much to the extent that people who live in a 15-mile radius or so of state boundaries are willing to cross them for a sales tax holiday.