WBEZ | Labor http://www.wbez.org/news/labor Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Global Activism: update from La Isla Foundation http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-update-la-isla-foundation-112256 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Tom Laffay La Isla Foundation.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>La Isla Foundation was formed in 2008 after independent filmmaker Jason Glaser met Juan Salgado, a community organizer from Candelaria, Nicaragua. Jason was in Nicaragua making a film about banana workers when Juan informed him of an epidemic of kidney disease occurring in Candelaria and &nbsp;La Isla (&quot;The Island&quot;), neighboring villages in the municipality of Chichigalpa in western Nicaragua. The disease was ravaging agricultural laborers working on a local sugar-cane plantation. Juan, a former worker on the plantation who was fired when he showed the first signs of kidney disease, introduced Jason to the people of La Isla and Candelaria. Over the following months, Jason watched as, one by one, friends he had made died from kidney failure. He put his film aside and started La Isla Foundation. Jason Glaser joins us to give us an update on the work he&rsquo;s been doing in Nicaragua.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/211971999&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Thu, 25 Jun 2015 15:41:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-update-la-isla-foundation-112256 Emanuel pushes Springfield for changes to police, fire pensions http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-pushes-springfield-changes-police-fire-pensions-112112 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Rahm.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel has long said a property tax increase for Chicago residents is the &ldquo;last resort&rdquo; to cover a scheduled increase in payments owed to the city&rsquo;s cash-strapped police and fire pensions.</p><p>To avoid a hike, he&rsquo;s asking Illinois state legislators to approve changes to the funding schedule for those two retirement funds - in addition to adding future payments to the pensions from a new source of revenue created by a potential new, city-owned casino.</p><p>Emanuel&rsquo;s administration says that a 5-year-old state law forces the city to pay an extra $600 million this year toward its cash-strapped retirement funds for police officers and firefighters.</p><p>Those pensions are severely under-funded, so Emanuel wants lawmakers to pass a bill that would put off those payments for a few years - in exchange for later adding larger payments and putting the pensions on a better funding schedule over the next 40 years, rather than the current 25-year plan.</p><p>Under the extended schedule, the pensions would be funded at 90 percent in 2055, rather than the current rates of around 25 percent funded. If the bill is not passed, said Steve Koch, Emanuel&rsquo;s deputy mayor, then property taxes could skyrocket.</p><p>&ldquo;I think this is always a matter of, in this sort of situation, of trying to reach a medium,&rdquo; Koch explained, &ldquo;where you protect the funds, which has been an objective of ours and an objective of the mayor since he took office, and equally protect taxpayers.&rdquo;</p><p>But Republicans criticized Emanuel&rsquo;s plan, saying the mayor&rsquo;s office is in a &ldquo;fantasyland,&rdquo; -- because the bill says it would take money from a Chicago casino, or casinos, to pay for pensions. Casinos that, as of yet, have not been approved by state lawmakers.</p><p>&ldquo;You&rsquo;re essentially in a fantasyland here, assuming that you&rsquo;re going to get a casino and all the revenue associated with that casino, with us not even seeing a bill that relates to that,&rdquo; said State Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton).</p><p>Lawmakers have been negotiating a gambling expansion bill behind closed doors, which could include a city-run casino; but so far a compromise has not been introduced to lawmakers. Koch said that if a casino is not approved, then the city would rely on cuts to city services or increases in fees or revenues to pay for the administration&rsquo;s proposed pension bill.</p><p>Meantime, the union representing Chicago firefighters, support the administration&rsquo;s pension plan, unlike other labor unions raising recent court challenges over previous efforts to change other city and state funds</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve been pretty conservative with our benefits over the years, so we don&rsquo;t pull no shenanigans in our fund,&rdquo; said Dan Fabrizio, with the Chicago Firefighters Union.</p><p>The measure was approved by the House and Senate with mostly Democratic support. Gov. Bruce Rauner&#39;s office has not commented on his position on the bill.</p><p>Tony Arnold is WBEZ&rsquo;s Illinois state politics reporter. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/tonyjarnold">@tonyjarnold</a>.&nbsp;</p></p> Sat, 30 May 2015 11:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-pushes-springfield-changes-police-fire-pensions-112112 Illinois House Democrats vote down right-to-work measure http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-house-democrats-vote-down-right-work-measure-112031 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/State-Capitol-Front-1_WBEZ_Tim-Akimoff.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Democrats in the Illinois House have voted down a plan similar to Gov. Bruce Rauner&#39;s proposal to allow local governments to permit workers to opt out of unions.</p><p>Thursday&#39;s vote was 0-72-37. The Democrats who control the House cast &quot;no&quot; votes. The entire Republican caucus, with the exception of one member, voted present because they said the vote was a &quot;political sham.&quot;</p><p>Democrats in a heated debate said the proposal would adversely affect middle class families.</p><p>Rauner has toured Illinois touting his idea of local &quot;empowerment zones.&quot; The zones would allow voters to make union membership voluntary at unionized workplaces. It&#39;s a key part of pro-business reforms Rauner wants passed in exchange for new revenue to help close a $6 billion budget gap.</p></p> Thu, 14 May 2015 16:41:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-house-democrats-vote-down-right-work-measure-112031 Chicago May Day protests to include anti-violence as theme http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-may-day-protests-include-anti-violence-theme-111972 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/mayday2012.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Activists in Chicago are gearing up for May 1 marches and rallies on issues including immigrant rights, anti-capitalism and police brutality.</p><p>May Day has long commemorated workers&#39; rights, but in recent years Chicago&#39;s marches have focused on immigration, unions and anti-capitalism.</p><p>Some labor groups want to bring attention to workers&#39; rights at noon near a sculpture commemorating the Haymarket riot. Another coalition says they&#39;ve planned an afternoon march in a park on Chicago&#39;s West Side. They&#39;re calling for a moratorium against deportations and will march to Cook County Jail.</p><p>Industrial Workers of the World spokesman Dan Bono says another theme is fighting against violence against everyday people, including police shootings. Members of the Black Lives Matter movement are also helping organize events, including a morning rally with school children.</p></p> Fri, 01 May 2015 08:11:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-may-day-protests-include-anti-violence-theme-111972 Rauner's first 100 days: The fight between unions and Rauner http://www.wbez.org/news/rauners-first-100-days-fight-between-unions-and-rauner-111909 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/raunerface.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Remember the protests in Wisconsin four years ago? When thousands of union members and their allies flocked to Madison?</p><p>Somewhere in that crowd, at least, the one that gathered in the winter of 2011, was Mark Guethle.</p><p>&ldquo;It was cold. Hat and gloves. I&rsquo;m used to cold weather so we&rsquo;re good,&rdquo; Guethle recalled. &ldquo;My colleagues and I were out there and we supported what the labor movement was doing at the time.&rdquo;</p><p>Guethle, with Painters District Council 30, is from Aurora in Chicago&rsquo;s western suburbs.&nbsp;He traveled to Wisconsin because he feared if policies he saw as anti-union could happen there, they could happen here.</p><p>This, at a time when Wisconsin lawmakers who hated that law so much, fled: They came to Illinois to avoid taking a vote, so Wisconsin Republicans couldn&rsquo;t get a quorum.</p><p>That was when Illinois was a blue state. Now, it&rsquo;s run by Rauner, a Republican.<br /><br />&ldquo;You got a governor who&rsquo;s running his anti-worker agenda,&rdquo; Guethle said.</p><p>He&rsquo;s referring to what Gov. Bruce Rauner calls his &ldquo;Turnaround Agenda.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;A key part of our agenda: In your city, in your county, in your schools, you should decide what gets collectively bargained. Springfield shouldn&rsquo;t tell ya,&rdquo; Rauner said recently as part of his tour of the state in which he gives campaign-stump-speech-style overviews of his priorities to small audiences.</p><p>It has Illinois union leaders, who will have to negotiate contracts with Rauner, very upset.</p><p>&ldquo;We haven&rsquo;t heard him give one concrete idea, one actual solution to helping Illinois&rsquo; problems,&rdquo; said Dan Montgomery, head of the Illinois Federation of Teachers. &ldquo;Instead, he&rsquo;s focused maniacally on attacking working people. It&rsquo;s unbelievable.&rdquo;</p><p>Montgomery said Rauner&rsquo;s plan signals that the governor would prefer to have chaos, rather than govern the state. Like what happens when Rauner asks local governments to pass a resolution that in-part embraces so-called right to work laws?</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a circus,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a circus because this governor knows it&rsquo;s illegal. So he&rsquo;s spending his time going around trying to shill and sell this snake oil that he knows is illegal. So why does he continue to do this?&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I think he&rsquo;s looking for some way to build some support for his side of the bargaining table when he sits down with the leaders in Springfield,&rdquo; said Joe Gottemoller, the chairman of the McHenry County Board northwest of Chicago.</p><p>The McHenry County Board recently approved Rauner&rsquo;s non-binding resolution that&rsquo;s angered unions so much. Gottemoller doesn&rsquo;t dispute that Illinois law does not yet allow for some of Rauner&rsquo;s agenda, but that doesn&rsquo;t mean it&rsquo;s not worth trying to change the law.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m not anti-union despite what they might say about me; but I&rsquo;m really not,&rdquo; Gottemoller said. &ldquo;I have unions to thank for me getting through college. But I also know that it doesn&rsquo;t do anybody any good to be an unemployed carpenter.&rdquo;</p><p>Gottemoller said McHenry County, which is right on the border of Wisconsin, is on the front lines of this labor fight. And he said growth and development in the county has slowed tremendously since 2008.</p><p>Gottemoller said he needs tools to compete with Illinois&rsquo; neighbors--and this resolution from the governor is a start. But even Gottemoller admits it&rsquo;ll be a long-time coming before these policies could actually be enacted. After all, a lot of Democratic and Republican lawmakers support labor, and vice versa.</p><p>So how do any of Rauner&rsquo;s plans get approved?</p><p>Guethle, the painter&rsquo;s union official who protested in Wisconsin, said he&rsquo;s got his eye on Rauner&rsquo;s campaign finance committee and a new Political Action Committee created by some of Rauner&rsquo;s allies. Guethle&rsquo;s trying to play the long game, much beyond these first 100 days, to see which 2016 candidates Rauner&rsquo;s going to be putting his money behind.</p><p>Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/tonyjarnold">@tonyjarnold</a>.</p></p> Mon, 20 Apr 2015 16:06:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/rauners-first-100-days-fight-between-unions-and-rauner-111909 Special Series: Global Activism - 'Worldview' Visits India http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2015-05-09/special-series-global-activism-worldview-visits-india-111888 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/India-series%20620%20good.JPG" title="From bottom l to r - Sonal Chaturvedi, co-director of Pravah, Nila Vora of India Development Service, Steve Bynum and Jerome McDonnell of WBEZ with the NGO Community Youth Collective in Delhi on Feb., 1, 2015 (Photo by Nilesh Kothari)" /><em>Worldview</em> took <em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/sections/water/special-series-global-activism-worldview-visits-india-111888">Global Activism</a></em> to India! And we take you along for the ride. For years, India Development Service <a href="http://idsusa.org/">(IDS)</a>, a Chicago-based investment NGO, has brought from India Global Activists to <em>Worldview&nbsp;</em>who work there to make life better. So IDS brought us to India to talk with people doing service and development projects on-the-ground. IDS guided us through big cities like, Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad, as well as to remote villages and towns. We met people working to overcome challenges like illiteracy, abuse of women and children, class issues and water security.</p></p> Thu, 16 Apr 2015 09:32:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2015-05-09/special-series-global-activism-worldview-visits-india-111888 Illinois to divert 'fair share' fees from unions http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-divert-fair-share-fees-unions-111739 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/raunerpodium.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>SPRINGFIELD, Ill. &mdash; Illinois Gov. Bruce&nbsp;Rauner, dogged in attempts to eliminate fees paid to unions by workers who choose not to join, has instructed state agencies to divert money from nonunion employee paychecks away from organized labor until a judge settles the matter.</p><p>In a memo obtained by The Associated Press, general counsel Jason Barclay directs departments under the Republican governor&#39;s control to create two sets of books, one of which would move deductions from nonunion members to the operations budgets of state agencies instead of to the unions, although the money would not be spent.</p><p>The idea was immediately condemned by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the largest of two dozen unions that filed a countersuit over an executive order&nbsp;Rauner&nbsp;signed last month calling the fees a free-speech violation. He&#39;s seeking a federal court&#39;s declaration that they are unconstitutional.</p><p>&quot;This legally questionable scheme shows the lengths to which Gov.&nbsp;Rauner&nbsp;will go in his obsession to undermine labor unions,&quot; Roberta Lynch, executive director of the Illinois council of AFSCME, said in a prepared statement. &quot;To frustrate lawful fair-share agreements,&nbsp;Rauner&nbsp;is ordering payroll staff to make unauthorized reductions in employees&#39; established salaries.&quot;</p><p>The process outlined in the memo calls for preparing one payroll report with the &quot;proper pay&quot; and one, to be processed, that reduces the worker&#39;s gross pay by an amount equal to what nonunion workers normally pay in so-called &quot;fair share&quot; fees. It is not clear how the deductions would affect federal tax withholding or health-insurance payments. Taxes are based on gross pay &mdash; if that amount is lower, less is withheld, creating potential headaches down the line.</p><p>&quot;We are confident in the process laid out in the memo,&quot;&nbsp;Rauner&nbsp;spokeswoman Catherine Kelly said in a prepared statement. &quot;It&#39;s no surprise that AFSCME is doing everything in their power to deny state employees from exercising their First Amendment rights.&quot;</p><p>Rauner, a businessman who admires Republican governors of Indiana, Wisconsin and elsewhere who have reduced union power, has also proposed &quot;right-to-work&quot; zones where local voters could decide whether workers should join unions. While he has said that he is not anti-union, he has frequently asserted that out-of-control union pensions and the political power of organized labor have contributed to the state&#39;s financial woes.</p><p>Lynch questioned what legal liability those payroll employees would face in issuing &quot;inaccurate checks.&quot; The system explained in the memo exposes a level of uncertainty associated with what labor expert Robert Bruno called &quot;virgin territory.&quot;</p><p>The memo recommends that each agency prepare a &quot;payroll report using the normal figures,&quot; copy and save it, and then create a second payroll &quot;needed to reduce the gross pay&quot; and enter a zero in a category reserved for fair share amounts. Then, it says, the amounts &quot;should be accepted by the comptroller.&quot;</p><p>Comptroller Leslie Munger, whom&nbsp;Rauner&nbsp;appointed to fill a vacancy, had stymied the governor&#39;s original plan to create a separate escrow account. Munger relied on the attorney general&#39;s opinion it would be illegal.</p><p>The memo said Munger &quot;provided the method&quot; for the latest plan, but after her spokesman, Rich Carter, denied that, Kelly clarified that after reviewing procedures with Munger&#39;s staff, &quot;the governor&#39;s staff identified a way&quot; to proceed. Carter, meanwhile, didn&#39;t answer a question about whether Munger would process the altered payrolls.</p><p>About 6,500 nonunion workers pay amounts lower than union dues &mdash; about $575 annually &mdash; to cover the costs of union negotiating and grievances. Unions must represent those who chose not to join.&nbsp;Rauner&#39;s&nbsp;action could keep about $3.74 million out of union bank accounts.</p><p>Bruno, a labor and industrial relations professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said&nbsp;Rauner&#39;s&nbsp;move would likely prompt a new legal action by the unions. He said if&nbsp;Rauner&nbsp;is trying to demoralize labor, it hasn&#39;t worked.</p><p>&quot;In fact, a rather extraordinary form of unity and consensus has broken out,&quot; Bruno said.</p></p> Fri, 20 Mar 2015 08:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-divert-fair-share-fees-unions-111739 From classroom to campaign trail: 5 teachers eye city council seats http://www.wbez.org/news/classroom-campaign-trail-5-teachers-eye-city-council-seats-111494 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/IMG_5457_0.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Susan Sadlowski Garza is the only counselor at Jane Addams Elementary, a school of about 850 students on the far South Side of Chicago.</p><p>But there, she says, she can only do so much. So she&rsquo;s moving beyond the walls of her school.</p><p>&ldquo;Hi! Good morning, how are you? My name is Sue Sadlowski Garza, I&rsquo;m running for alderman,&rdquo; Garza said to a potential voter, while door-knocking in the 10<sup>th</sup> Ward in early January.</p><p>Teachers are embedded in their communities and are often among the first people to see how policies made downtown play out on the ground.</p><p>&ldquo;Ward by ward and everywhere we go, people have had it,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Garza is one of five teachers running this time for Chicago&rsquo;s City Council, an unusually high number, propelled by Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis.</p><p>Lewis spent much of last fall building political momentum to see if she could challenge Mayor Rahm Emanuel, but then was sidelined by a cancerous brain tumor last October. Rank-and-file teachers had started to line up behind her, challenging aldermen loyal to the mayor. Those still running include: Ed Hershey (25<sup>th</sup>), Tim Meegan (33<sup>rd</sup>), Tara Stamps (37<sup>th</sup>), and Dianne Daleiden (40<sup>th</sup>).&nbsp;</p><p>As harp-tongued as ever, Lewis <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/ctu-president-karen-lewis-speaks-111489">gave her first public address</a> on Monday at a City Club of Chicago luncheon. Afterward, Garza and Stamps stood next to Lewis as she answered questions from reporters.</p><p>&ldquo;This is not about one race or one year, one electoral cycle,&rdquo; Lewis said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s about building, changing the political landscape in Chicago because it&rsquo;s not going to change if we don&rsquo;t try.&rdquo;</p><p>All of the teachers running have gotten endorsements and cash from the CTU -- anywhere from $5,000 to $32,000.</p><p>But those campaign contributions pale in comparison to those of incumbents, who are all close allies of Emanuel: John Pope (10<sup>th</sup>), Danny Solis (25<sup>th</sup>), Emma Mitts (37<sup>th</sup>), Deb Mell (33<sup>rd</sup>), and Pat O&rsquo;Connor (40<sup>th</sup>).</p><p>The CTU also doesn&rsquo;t have a deep-pocketed Super-PAC helping get their message out. Emanuel ally and former CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll is head of Chicago Forward, a Washington-style political action committee with millions to spend on ads, mailers, and other campaign efforts that support aldermen who side with the mayor.</p><p>Aldermen like Garza&rsquo;s opponent, John Pope. City council <a href="http://pols.uic.edu/docs/default-source/chicago_politics/city_council_voting_records/city-council-report-dec2014.pdf?sfvrsn=0">records show</a> Pope has voted with Emanuel 100 percent of the time since 2011.</p><p>But Pope scoffed at the thought that he is &ldquo;a rubber stamp&rdquo;.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m not a rubber stamp for anyone but the 10th warders, my neighbors, my friends, my family members,&rdquo; Pope told WBEZ.</p><p>He said he&rsquo;s proud of his record bringing jobs to the ward, improving schools, and more recently working to control pet coke pollution.</p><p>Garza said he could still do more to involve local residents; &nbsp;that sentiment of &#39;more needs to be done&#39; was echoed by the other CTU-backed candidates. They want wards to be run more from the bottom up.</p><p>&ldquo;It should be residents driving decisions,&rdquo; said Tim Meegan, a candidate for 33<sup>rd</sup> Ward alderman and a teacher at Roosevelt High School. &ldquo;It shouldn&rsquo;t be the alderman saying this is what you&rsquo;re going to get.&rdquo;</p><p>Meegan noted that idea&mdash;getting more people on the ground involved&mdash;is the same one CTU leadership came to power with in 2010.</p><p>&ldquo;In 2010, when CORE took over the Chicago Teachers Union, we switched from a top-down, service-oriented union to a bottom-up, social justice like, grassroots movement.&rdquo;</p><p>When Lewis, and a group called CORE, took over the union in 2010, they vowed to include the voices of rank-and-file teachers. They saw previous CTU leaders as too narrowly focused on wages and benefits, and not fighting back on the broader policies of former Mayor Richard M. Daley, like the expansion of charter schools.</p><p>Meegan is running for 33<sup>rd</sup> Ward alderman on the North Side against incumbent Deb Mell. &nbsp;She was appointed by Emanuel after her father, Dick Mell, stepped down. The older Mell was one of the longest serving aldermen in City Council history. &nbsp;</p><p>Deb Mell said she&rsquo;s running the office differently than her dad did, including bringing the community into decision making.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s great that people get involved in the political process,&rdquo; she said of Meegan&rsquo;s candidacy. &ldquo;The voters now have a chance to comment on the job I&rsquo;ve done in the last year and a half.&rdquo;</p><p>Mell has raised more than $75,000 to Meegan&#39;s roughly $32,000. But, Mell pointed out,&nbsp;the largest single donation made in the 33rd race so far has been $15,000 given to Meegan by the CTU.&nbsp;</p><p>It&rsquo;s a different story for Garza. Pope has raised almost triple what she holds in her campaign coffers.</p><p>Garza&rsquo;s headquarters are in an old taco shop that closed a few years ago. The soda machine still sits next to the counter with a sign that reads: No Refills. &nbsp;Above a booth in the corner hangs a faded old campaign sign.</p><p>It&rsquo;s not her&#39;s. It&rsquo;s her dad&rsquo;s.</p><p>Garza grew up just down the road, in the shadow of the old steel mills, where her dad, Ed Sadlowski, served as president of the local chapter of the United Steelworkers of America. The 10th Ward looked a lot different then.</p><p>&ldquo;Everybody was working,&rdquo; Garza said. &ldquo;It was a very prosperous neighborhood. There was a restaurant and bar on every corner. And when the mills went away, things really started to change.&rdquo;</p><p>Garza said her father&#39;s fight to keep the mills open wasn&rsquo;t just about saving jobs. It was also about the health of the communities surrounding the mills. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>It&rsquo;s not all that different, Garza argues, from what the CTU is trying to do now.&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 04 Feb 2015 05:26:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/classroom-campaign-trail-5-teachers-eye-city-council-seats-111494 US Steel to lay off more than 350 in East Chicago http://www.wbez.org/news/us-steel-lay-more-350-east-chicago-111439 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/640px-Indiana_Harbor.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>EAST CHICAGO, Ind. &mdash; U.S. Steel says it will lay off more than 350 workers in East Chicago, Indiana, as it plans to temporarily close its tin mill.</p><p>Company spokeswoman Sarah Cassella tells <a href="http://bit.ly/1uyOONn" target="_blank"><em>The Times</em></a> in Munster that layoffs will begin in mid-March. She declined to comment on how long the plant will be closed for.</p><p>Cassella says low-priced tin product imports have hurt domestic business.</p><p>Steel industry analyst Charles Bradford says the effect on other area mills should be muted, with tin products making up only 2 percent of the steel market.</p><p>U.S. Steel has announced roughly 1,300 layoffs across the country this month. That includes the planned idling of plants in Ohio and Texas and the permanent shut down of a southern Illinois coke-making plant.</p></p> Thu, 22 Jan 2015 13:54:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/us-steel-lay-more-350-east-chicago-111439 US announces protections for transgender workers http://www.wbez.org/news/us-announces-protections-transgender-workers-111265 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/flag.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>WASHINGTON &nbsp;&mdash; The Justice Department is now interpreting federal law to explicitly prohibit workplace discrimination against transgender people, according to a memo released Thursday by Attorney General Eric Holder.</p><p>That means the Justice Department will be able to bring legal claims on behalf of people who say they&#39;ve been discriminated against by state and local public employers based on sex identity. In defending lawsuits, the federal government also will no longer take the position that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which bans sex discrimination, does not protect against workplace discrimination on the basis of gender status.</p><p>The memo released Thursday is part of a broader Obama administration effort to afford workplace protection for transgender employees. In July, President Barack Obama ordered employment protection for gay and transgender employees who work for the U.S. government or for companies holding federal contracts.</p><p>The new position is a reversal in position for the Justice Department, which in 2006 stated that Title VII did not cover discrimination based on transgender status.</p><p>&quot;The federal government&#39;s approach to this issue has also evolved over time,&quot; Holder wrote in the memo, saying his position was based on the &quot;most straightforward reading&quot; of the law.</p><p>The memo covers all components of the Justice Department as well as all U.S. Attorneys&#39; offices. The Justice Department does not have authority to sue private employers, and the new memo does not affect that.</p></p> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 14:54:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/us-announces-protections-transgender-workers-111265