WBEZ | labor http://www.wbez.org/tags/labor Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Chicago moves on taxi reforms to leave more money in cabbies' pockets http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-moves-taxi-reforms-leave-more-money-cabbies-pockets-110877 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Cabs.png" alt="" /><p><p>The city of Chicago is moving on a set of reforms to help cabbies take home more money, a partial salve after a months-long fight over legalizing competing rideshare services left many taxi drivers feeling bruised. While many hail the step as a sign that city officials are finally working to redress cab drivers&rsquo; complaints, some say the changes don&rsquo;t go far enough.</p><p>&ldquo;What we wanted to do is improve overall their experience here in the city, and make it more lucrative for them as cab drivers,&rdquo; said Maria Guerra Lapacek, Commissioner of Chicago&rsquo;s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.</p><p>Guerra Lapacek said her department crafted the proposals after working with representatives from Cab Drivers United/AFSCME Local 31 and other driver advocacy groups. Some of them will be included in an ordinance to be introduced at City Council&rsquo;s meeting next week. Others will be implemented through rule changes by the BACP.</p><p>The most significant change would reduce how much taxi owners may charge to lease their fuel-efficient cabs after the vehicles&rsquo; first year on the road.</p><p>&ldquo;The garages are able to recoup their investment after a year of having these vehicles in circulation,&rdquo; explained Guerra Lapacek, &ldquo;so the idea was to reduce the lease rate cap for the second year, and that way give relief back to the cab driver.&rdquo;</p><p>Guerra Lapacek said this idea resulted from the surprising finding in a recent <a href="http://www.wbez.org/study-chicago-cabbies-earn-average-12hour-110726">city-commissioned study</a>, which found that cab drivers spend about 40 percent of their gross income on their vehicle leases. Ultimately, the reform could affect leases for an estimated 3,700 of the city&rsquo;s nearly 7,000 cabs.</p><p>Leases would also be reduced for drivers whose vehicles generate a separate revenue stream from advertising displays. The reforms would require cab companies to credit leases in these cases.</p><p>&ldquo;There are over 2000 owner-operators in the City of Chicago. They don&rsquo;t pay a lease,&rdquo; said Peter Enger, a cab driver and Secretary of the United Taxidrivers Community Council. &ldquo;This will not help them in the slightest.&rdquo;</p><p>Enger said he&rsquo;s delighted that city officials appear to be considering the difficulties cab drivers have faced since a previous set of reforms took effect in 2012. Those reforms raised the lease rates for cabs, without a commensurate increase in taxi fare rates. Many cab drivers say that has resulted in longer working hours to earn the same income.</p><p>Cab drivers who own and drive their own taxis affirm Enger&rsquo;s fear that a new round of reform will still leave them in the dust.</p><p>&ldquo;The only way is to get a fare increase that we did not get for almost ten years, to offset the cost of living and all of that stuff,&rdquo; said Ahmed Ammar, who owns and drives his own taxi. &ldquo;Everything went up.&rdquo;</p><p>While some cab drivers, particularly those aligned with UTCC&rsquo;s union, push for a taxi fare increase, others worry it could adversely affect demand. Representatives from another union, Cab Drivers United, say raising fares is lower on their priority list.</p><p>&ldquo;Our focus first and foremost has been moving forward on these changes that will both put money in drivers&rsquo; pockets, and keep the cab companies competitive with the (rideshare) companies,&rdquo; said Tracy Abman, an organizer with AFSCME Local 31.</p><p>Guerra Lapacek said her department will not consider a fare increase at this juncture because she worries it could turn customers away from the taxi industry. Rideshare companies&rsquo; prices routinely undercut taxi fares.</p><p>The proposals also include city-backed smartphone applications to allow passengers to electronically hail taxis, as they do with popular services such as Uber and Hailo.</p><p>&ldquo;We think this is an excellent reform that&rsquo;s going to bring the cab industry into more innovation and really help them access those customers,&rdquo; said Guerra Lapacek. She said the city will put out a request for proposals, and will require all taxis to be on at least one of the city-backed apps.</p><p>Additionally, the reforms would reduce the fee that taxi drivers pay on credit card transactions, from 5 percent to 3 percent; lower the maximum penalties for taxi offenses from $1,000 to $400; and <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/bacp/publicvehicleinfo/publicchauffer/chauffeurtrainingtaskforcefinalrecommendations.pdf">streamline</a>&nbsp;the required driver training process.</p><p>The city will also create a task force to review <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/how-often-are-cabs-pulled-over-and-what-109734">the enforcement process of taxi rules</a> at the Administrative Hearings Court, which many taxi drivers disparagingly refer to as a &ldquo;kangaroo court.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s significant that the City is listening to drivers that are organized, listen to them, hearing their concerns, addressing some of their concerns and agreeing to continue to work together with drivers to make their lives better and make sure the industry remains viable,&rdquo; said Abman.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her </em><a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef"><em>@oyousef</em></a><em> and </em><a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud"><em>@WBEZoutloud</em></a><em>.</em></p></p> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 18:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-moves-taxi-reforms-leave-more-money-cabbies-pockets-110877 Silva gains momentum in Brazil Presidential race http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-09-29/silva-gains-momentum-brazil-presidential-race-110866 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP362424585789.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Brazilians head to the polls on Oct. 5 for the first round of presidential elections. Incumbent President Dilma Rousseff and candidate Marina Silva, are in a close race. Marcelo Jarmendia, founder and director of Brazil in Chicago, explains Silva&#39;s momentum.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-silva-gains-momentum-in-brazil-president/embed?header=false&amp;border=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-silva-gains-momentum-in-brazil-president.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-silva-gains-momentum-in-brazil-president" target="_blank">View the story "Worldview: Silva gains momentum in Brazil Presidential race" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 11:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-09-29/silva-gains-momentum-brazil-presidential-race-110866 Study: Chicago cabbies earn average of $12/hour http://www.wbez.org/study-chicago-cabbies-earn-average-12hour-110726 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Cabs_140829_oy_lo res.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">A <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/mayor/Press%20Room/Press%20Releases/2014/August/Chicago_Taxi_Fares_Study_Final_Aug2014.pdf">city-commissioned study</a> on cabbie incomes has found Chicago&rsquo;s taxi drivers, on average, earn more than $12 an hour. The report stands in sharp contrast to the argument by many cab drivers that they take home less than the state&rsquo;s $8.25 hourly minimum wage.</p><p dir="ltr">The study, conducted by outside consulting firm Nelson-Nygaard, is more than a year in the making, and is the first truly comprehensive, scientific analysis of how much cabbies make in Chicago.</p><p>The study combines data collected from taxi credit card machines with cabbie feedback on a survey, to calculate revenues and costs in the profession. Ultimately, it looked at more than 10.6 million trips by cabs that were equipped with Creative Mobile Technologies taximeters over an eight month period, starting January 2013. A more limited analysis was also done on Verifone credit card machines, which confirmed that earnings calculations between the two technologies were similar.</p><p>&ldquo;We wanted a thorough, complete study,&rdquo; said Maria Guerra Lapacek, Commissioner of Chicago&rsquo;s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection. &ldquo;A scientific look at what was the reality.&rdquo;</p><p>Lapacek said the report validates some of the controversial industry reforms enacted by the city in 2012. &ldquo;With the study we did learn that about 43 percent of the drivers are making more than $13 an hour,&rdquo; she noted.</p><p>The study found that if cabbies work 50 weeks in a year, full-time drivers who hustle 51 hours each week net an average $111 per day, or $31,397 per year. Extended-time drivers who work 75 hours each week netted $120 a day, or $46,614 per year. Part-time cabbies, who would still have to drive close to a full work week -- at 31 hours a week -- would only net $57 a day, or $15,374 per year.</p><p>The averages mask a broad variation in incomes. At the low end of the scale, the study reveals that 20 percent of drivers net less than $30 a day, while at the other end the most productive drivers may be earning upward of $187 in a day.</p><p>Additionally, the study found that one-sixth of Chicago taxi drivers are, in fact, not breaking even each day. &ldquo;It is somewhat puzzling that drivers continue driving a taxi if they are losing money or making nearly nothing,&rdquo; the report states.</p><p>&ldquo;Because of the city&rsquo;s low fare, one-sixth of the workforce actually loses money in their chosen profession? That&rsquo;s a huge problem for the city,&rdquo; said Michael Persoon, an attorney with law firm Despres, Schwartz and Geoghegan. Persoon is helping to represent Chicago cab driver Melissa Callahan in her <a href="http://www.wbez.org/cabbie%E2%80%99s-lawsuit-against-chicago-moves-forward-104355">federal lawsuit</a> against the city, which claims that she should be considered an employee of the city, and thus entitled to the minimum wage.</p><p>In a separate, more limited study that Callahan&rsquo;s lawyers commissioned, University of Illinois Professor Robert Bruno used data from 689 taxi drivers&rsquo; Verifone credit card machines to calculate driver incomes. In contrast to the Nelson-Nygaard study, Bruno found that the drivers netted, on average, $8.11 an hour &mdash; less than Illinois&rsquo;s minimum wage. This has been a critical part of her team&rsquo;s argument that Chicago should raise taxi fare rates, which have remained unchanged since 2005.</p><p>Persoon says the new study does not undermine Callahan&rsquo;s case.</p><p>&ldquo;What it shows is that there are people who aren&rsquo;t earning the minimum wage,&rdquo; he said. The report shows between 30 and 40 percent of drivers are netting less than $8.25 an hour.</p><p>The Nelson-Nygaard study also found that by far, the biggest cost for drivers are their vehicle leases &mdash; accounting for nearly 40 percent, on average, of gross income. The lease burden increased dramatically for drivers under the 2012 reforms, when the City allowed cab companies to increase the maximum amount they could charge drivers for the use of their vehicles.</p><p>&ldquo;Certainly the lease rates are something we&rsquo;re looking at,&rdquo; said Guerra Lapacek, who added that her office plans to announce several changes in the coming weeks to taxi regulations. &ldquo;We are and have been working on reforms that are going to help with the taxi driver profit.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Cab drivers, of late, have become increasingly vocal about changes they&rsquo;d like to see. Despite several attempts over the years to organize, only recently have a significant number of cabbies begun to come together under the umbrella of AFSCME Local 31. The labor group has pushed City Hall to revisit policies pertaining to maximum fines for taxi violations, lease rates, and credit card processing fees, among other issues.</p><p>Guerra Lapacek would not say at this time whether she will consider recommending higher fares.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 28 Aug 2014 23:57:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/study-chicago-cabbies-earn-average-12hour-110726 Emanuel pension deal would raise property taxes, trim benefits http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-pension-deal-would-raise-property-taxes-trim-benefits-109948 <p><iframe width="100%" height="166" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/142758537&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true"></iframe><p>Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel&#39;s plan for fixing part of the nation&#39;s worst municipal pension crisis is now in the hands of state lawmakers &mdash; and it&#39;s likely just the first of many from cities across the state seeking legislative help for their employee retirement funds.</p><p>The Democratic mayor&#39;s proposal comes just months after the General Assembly finally tackled a plan &mdash; challenged in court &mdash; to deal with its own $100 billion pension problem. But Emanuel hasn&#39;t yet addressed shortfalls in the city&#39;s fire and police pension programs, a problem that nearly every large city in Illinois faces.</p><p>Chicago has the worst-funded public pension system of any major U.S. city, a distinction that could threaten its attempts to position itself as a modern transportation hub and a place for high-tech development.</p><p>Emanuel announced he had reached a deal with several municipal and laborers unions to cut in half a $19.5 billion pension debt over 40 years in accounts that cover more than 50,000 employees and retirees. The agreement would raise property taxes by $50 million a year over the next five years, ultimately bringing in $750 million over that time. It would also require higher contributions from employees and reduce the annual benefits retirees receive.</p><p>Less than a year from facing the voters for re-election, Emanuel&#39;s plan is politically risky.</p><p>&quot;Voters did not elect me to think about my political future,&quot; Emanuel said in a statement Tuesday. &quot;They elected me to think about Chicago&#39;s future.&quot;</p><p>He suggested the effort with the unions could be a template for solving $10 billion in police and fire shortfalls, but didn&#39;t suggest specifics, including how the city can meet a required $600 million balloon payment to police and fire funds next year.</p><p>And despite Emanuel&#39;s claim of widespread union support, a coalition of labor groups representing firefighters, police officers, teachers, nurses and other city workers called We Are One Chicago all but promised a lawsuit if lawmakers OK the plan. A similar group has filed a lawsuit over the state plan.</p><p>In Springfield, Republicans were noncommittal, saying they wanted to see the details and who would have to pay for the plan before they signed on. Democrats, who control supermajorities in both legislative chambers, already begun drafting language for the necessary bills in the House.</p><p>Other cities wrestling with their own pension shortfalls are watching.</p><p>&quot;Chicago drives things throughout the state and it also gets the majority of funding from Springfield and Washington, D.C.,&quot; Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis said. &quot;A healthy Chicago means more scraps for the Peorias, Rockfords, Danvilles of the state.&quot;</p><p>Rep. Elaine Nekritz, a Northbrook Democrat and House leader on pension issues, predicted lawmakers would deal with the current Emanuel plan by itself, but that when it comes to police and fire funds, Chicago and the state&#39;s other large cities will be coming to Springfield for help.</p><p>Aurora, the state&#39;s second-largest city, is among municipalities struggling with police and fire obligations, including state financial penalties to take effect in 2016 for cities that do not make sufficient contributions to those pension accounts. That amounts to an increase of more than $1 million annually for Aurora, which has reduced its operating expenses and laid off employees in recent years, Mayor Tom Weisner said.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s not sustainable. Without some reform, there&#39;s going to be cities that basically, I believe, will be going under,&quot; Weisner said. &quot;I&#39;d be hard-pressed to find a community whose leaders are not in favor of pension reform for public safety employees.&quot;</p><p>According to the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, a legislative budget analyst, police and fire pension funds in cities outside Chicago have deteriorated significantly in the past two decades. Police funds, for example, were 75 percent funded in 1991, while they were only 54 percent funded &mdash; $4.4 billion short &mdash; in 2010.</p><p>The commission points out that assets in that time have tripled, but liabilities have increased even more. Springfield Mayor Michael Houston said police and fire funds were hit hard by the financial downturn of 2008 and, over the years, legislatively approved enhancements to pension benefits that did not come with money to pay for them.</p><p>&quot;While we can lobby for changes, it&#39;s up to the state Legislature to make changes,&quot; Houston said.</p><p>If the state approves Emanuel&#39;s plan, &quot;it has the potential to create a path for the mayor to address his police and fire pension fund, which will also need to be addressed by downstate police and fire funds,&quot; said Laurence Msall, president of the Chicago-based Civic Federation.</p><p>But he cautioned that the two systems are different. Chicago is unique for having a separate fund for municipal employees and laborers. In other cities, those jobs are covered by the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, which is generally in good shape in cities across the state because of stricter contribution requirements and less-generous benefits.</p></p> Tue, 01 Apr 2014 08:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-pension-deal-would-raise-property-taxes-trim-benefits-109948 Economist: College football like NFL but for pay http://www.wbez.org/news/economist-college-football-nfl-pay-109737 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP565441140271.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Major colleges run their football teams just like those in the NFL, relying on players to generate millions of dollars in revenue, an economist testified Wednesday before a federal agency that will decide whether Northwestern football players may form the first union for college athletes in U.S. history.</p><p>&quot;The difference would be ... the NFL pays their players,&quot; Southern Utah University sports economist David Berri told the National Labor Relations Board on the second day of a hearing in Chicago that could stretch into Friday. That colleges don&#39;t pay their football players, he said, likely boosts their programs&#39; profitability further.</p><p>The NLRB is considering whether Wildcats&#39; football players can be categorized under U.S. law as employees, which would give them rights to unionize. The university, the Big Ten Conference and NCAA have all maintained college players are student-athletes, not employees.</p><p>Attorneys for Northwestern began presenting their case opposing unionization, endeavoring to show that the newly formed College Athletes Players Association would provide little tangible benefit to the Northwestern players.</p><p>Asked whether one of CAPA&#39;s stated goals &mdash; to improve football-player graduation rates &mdash; made any sense for Northwestern, the university&#39;s associate athletic director, Brian Baptiste, noted the school&#39;s rate was already No. 1 in the nation &mdash; at 97 percent.</p><p>&quot;I guess you can increase 97 percent,&quot; he said wryly.</p><p>Union supporters say they would be able to force schools to better protect football players from head injuries. Baptiste suggested that only the NCAA, with oversight power across the country, was in position to address that.</p><p>&quot;That has to be done on a national level,&quot; he said. &quot;Northwestern wouldn&#39;t have control over that.&quot;</p><p>Supporters argue a union would provide athletes a vehicle to lobby for greater financial security. They contend scholarships sometimes don&#39;t even cover livings expenses for a full year.</p><p>Baptiste said NCAA rules tie Northwestern&#39;s hands, and they would bar it from assenting to demands from an on-campus football union, including calls to increase the value of scholarships. He said the NCAA caps scholarship amounts.</p><p>Berri, the economist, was called to testify on behalf of the proposed union, which is pushing the unionization bid with support from the United Steelworkers. He sought to illustrate how the relationship between Northwestern and its football players was one of employer to employees.</p><p>Profit numbers attest to the program being a commercial enterprise, he told the hearing,</p><p>Northwestern&#39;s football program reported a total profit of $76 million from 2003 to 2012, with revenues of $235 million and costs of $159 million, Berri testified. The numbers were adjusted for inflation for the private school.</p><p>Berri conceded he didn&#39;t know that maintenance of the Wildcats&#39; stadium was not included in the expense numbers. And he said he also did not know if football profits made up for losses in other, less popular school sports.</p><p>Schools with revenue-generating football teams were in the business of entertainment, Berri said. Asked who provided those services, he responded, &quot;Players are the ones you are watching.&quot;</p><p>Northwestern attorney Alex Barbour pressed Berri about whether he was trying to say the school exploits its football players.</p><p>&quot;There is an economic definition of the word &#39;exploitation,&#39;&quot; he responded. &quot;A worker is exploited ... if their economic value is greater than their wages. ... By that definition, they are exploited.&quot;</p><p>Whether the economist should have been allowed to testify was a point of contention, with Barbour complaining that Berri&#39;s analysis was irrelevant to the central question: Are college football players are employees?</p><p>But after allow the side to debate the issue, the hearing officer overseeing the case, Joyce Hofstra, agreed to let Berri speak, saying the hearing was &quot;novel&quot; and she would err on the side of admitting evidence.</p><p>Barbour had said during his opening statement that allowing a college athletes&#39; union to collectively bargain would be &quot;a Rube Goldberg contraption that would not work in the real world&quot; and would fundamentally change college sports.</p><p>Berri, though, pointed to the NFL and its embrace of a union, saying unionization in its case &quot;did not cause the professional sport to collapse.&quot;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 19 Feb 2014 16:38:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/economist-college-football-nfl-pay-109737 UIC faculty claim higher cause http://www.wbez.org/news/uic-faculty-claim-higher-cause-109732 <p><p>As University of Illinois at Chicago faculty members went on strike this week for the first time in school history, English Professor Walter Benn Michaels took a break from picketing to give a reporter a lesson about the academic pecking order.</p><p>Looking up at the school&rsquo;s tallest building &mdash; the 28-story University Hall &mdash; Michaels pointed out that the top floors are for UIC&rsquo;s senior administration. &ldquo;You got people up there making a lot of money,&rdquo; he said.<br /><br />The building&rsquo;s other floors are for various academic departments, including English, headed by Michaels, whose office is on the 20th. Among the tenured and tenure-track faculty, he said, &ldquo;there are some people like me who are well-paid.&rdquo;<br /><br />But go down one floor to the 19th and &ldquo;you have the exact opposite,&rdquo; Michaels said. &ldquo;You have the non-tenure-track English professors who are making mainly $30,000 a year. A few lucky ones &mdash; some of them have been here 15-20 years &mdash; are making $35,000.&rdquo;<br /><br />Most of these employees, Michaels pointed out, have doctoral degrees and teach full-time for UIC.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/MichaelsSCALED.jpg" style="height: 417px; width: 300px; margin: 5px; float: left;" title="Walter Benn Michaels, a professor who heads the University of Illinois at Chicago’s English Department, works on the 20th floor of University Hall. He says he’s backing the strike to stand up for students and his department’s lowest-paid instructors, who work on the 19th floor. WBEZ/Chip Mitchell" /></div><p>Eighteen months since the Illinois Federation of Teachers won certification to represent 1,100 of the school&rsquo;s faculty members, they are still trying to get their first collective-bargaining agreement.</p><p>Their dispute has become a flashpoint in a nationwide battle over the fate of higher education. On many campuses, that battle pits socially driven professors against market-oriented administrators and trustees or, as Michaels describes them, &ldquo;neoliberal&rdquo; forces.<br /><br />The main unresolved UIC bargaining issues concern faculty compensation. The school&rsquo;s administrators say they cannot give the union all it wants. Over four years, according to UIC, the faculty&rsquo;s demands would hike costs by 23 percent for tenure-system faculty and 27 percent for the rest.<br /><br />But faculty members say the two-day work stoppage, which ends Wednesday, is about more than their pocketbooks. They say it is about their students.</p><p>&ldquo;We would like, for example, to have all the English majors to do senior theses,&rdquo; Michaels told me. &ldquo;But, when you have a tenure-track department faculty of 33 people, you can&rsquo;t be having hundreds of English majors doing senior theses.&rdquo;</p><p>The only way to properly advise all these students, Michaels said, would be to deploy the department&rsquo;s non-tenure-track faculty &mdash; the folks who get $30,000 or $35,000 a year.<br /><br />&ldquo;I can&rsquo;t turn to these people and say, &lsquo;I want to add some additional work, which is hard work and which requires a lot of personal hours with students,&rsquo; &rdquo; Michaels said. &ldquo;How can I ask them to do that when I can offer them nothing? I can&rsquo;t offer them a promotion. I can&rsquo;t offer them a better wage.&rdquo;<br /><br />Professors in fields ranging from art history to philosophy also claim that it has become harder to get approval for courses that may not attract hoards of students.<br /><br />When it comes to colleges and universities struggling to do right by their students, UIC is less the exception than the rule, according to Gary Rhoades, director of the University of Arizona&rsquo;s Center for the Study of Higher Education.<br /><br />At many schools, Rhoades said, professors are resisting &ldquo;administrative desires to narrow the range of fields in which education is provided, to concentrate resources on a few areas that [management] thinks are going to pay off &mdash; either in terms of bringing in research moneys [or] cutting off areas that are not seen to be so valuable in the marketplace for the student.&rdquo;<br /><br />The academic areas deemed valuable, Rhoades explained, are those that help students get jobs as soon as they graduate.<br /><br />Michael Poliakoff, vice president of policy at the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, suggested that UIC emulate &ldquo;smart&rdquo; universities and colleges that have formed consortia and transitioned to interactive video. He said there may not be any other affordable way to provide low-enrollment programs ranging from classics to foreign languages.<br /><br />Poliakoff also echoed Harvard Business School management guru Clayton Christensen, who says on-the-job training is pushing aside the traditional U.S. higher-education model. &ldquo;Fifteen years from now, half of the colleges and universities in this nation are going to be in bankruptcy,&rdquo; Poliakoff warned.<br /><br />&ldquo;Universities can&rsquo;t be everything to everybody,&rdquo; Poliakoff said. &ldquo;If they try to do that &mdash; especially if you have faculty collective-bargaining agreements attempting to protect programs even when they&rsquo;re not financially viable &mdash; then the school is really headed for financial disaster.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;It is the business of an institution to ensure that it is cost-effective,&rdquo; Poliakoff said.<br /><br />The UIC faculty members call their strike an effort to ward off that sort of thinking. They insist they are standing up for their students.<br /><br />&ldquo;When I teach American literature,&rdquo; Michaels said, &ldquo;they&rsquo;re going to learn something about the value of literature &mdash; something that they&rsquo;ll take with them all the way through their lives. That&rsquo;s important to us. That&rsquo;s part of what a university is.&rdquo;<br /><br />When the sides resume bargaining this Friday, they will have to decide whether that value is something the school can still afford.<br />&nbsp;</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>, and connect with him through <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a>, <a href="https://plus.google.com/111079509307132701769" rel="me">Google+</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 19 Feb 2014 07:56:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/uic-faculty-claim-higher-cause-109732 Thrift store employees attempt to unionize http://www.wbez.org/news/thrift-store-employees-attempt-unionize-109082 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/retail union.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Workers at a thrift store on Chicago&rsquo;s North Side are trying to form a union. Some employees at the Unique thrift store in Chicago earn close to minimum wage and no benefits even though they have worked full time at the store for more than 10 years.</p><p>Unique is run by a for-profit company called Savers based in Bellevue, Washington. The company gets some of their items from charities like the Salvation Army.</p><p>Professor Chris Tilly is with the University of California Los Angeles. He says bigger department stores like Macy&rsquo;s were unionized in the past. Today, retail, much less a thrift store, is more challenging to organize,.</p><p>He says a group in New York called the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) has been successful by taking a community approach.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s partly also about creating an environment where there&rsquo;s pressure coming from workers and community. In that sense, it&rsquo;s very much like the fast food campaign, and the &#39;Our Walmart&#39; campaign,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Workers United, the group representing the Unique employees, says they&#39;re planning on organizing all 12 of the store&rsquo;s Chicago locations.</p><p>Unique management did not return a request for comment.</p><p><em>Susie An covers business for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/soosieon" target="_blank">@soosieon</a></em></p></p> Tue, 05 Nov 2013 11:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/thrift-store-employees-attempt-unionize-109082 Half of fast-food workers rely on public assistance to make ends meet http://www.wbez.org/news/half-fast-food-workers-rely-public-assistance-make-ends-meet-108929 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Fast Food Work_sh.JPG" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid--8c1fdd9-be26-6d81-199a-a26e24b90e2c">Over 50 percent of frontline fast-food workers rely on some sort of public assistance to support their families. In Illinois, the price tag for that assistance is $368 million. Those statistics came out Tuesday in <a href="http://laborcenter.berkeley.edu/publiccosts/fast_food_poverty_wages.pdf">a report </a>from University of California-Berkeley and the University of Illinois.</p><p dir="ltr">Devonte Yates works at a McDonald&rsquo;s in Milwaukee. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t like [relying on food stamps],&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s something I have to do to eat at night. I work hard everyday. If it weren&rsquo;t for workers, these companies wouldn&rsquo;t thrive.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Jack Temple works at the National Employment Law Project, which released <a href="http://www.nelp.org/page/-/rtmw/uploads/NELP-Super-Sizing-Public-Costs-Fast-Food-Report.pdf?nocdn=1">a companion report.</a> That report showed that providing public assistance for workers at the 10 largest fast-food chains costs taxpayers $3.8 billion each year; public assistance costs for employees at McDonald&rsquo;s alone costs $1.2 billion annually.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;These companies operate on a business model that leaves low-paid workers unable to buy basic necessities and leaves taxpayers on the hook,&rdquo; said Temple.</p><p dir="ltr">In a written statement McDonald&rsquo;s said, &ldquo;The fact is that McDonald&rsquo;s and our independent franchisees provide jobs to hundreds of thousands of people across the country. As with most small businesses, wages are based on local wage laws and are competitive to similar jobs in that market.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The UC Berkeley and University of Illinois report looked at core workers, those employees working at least 10 hours a week and 26 weeks a year. The study found most of that group did not fit the fast-food worker stereotype of a teenager or student living at home.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;More than two-thirds of core, frontline fast-food workers across the country are over the age of 20, and 68 percent are the main wage earners in their families,&rdquo; said <a href="http://www.urban.uiuc.edu/faculty/doussard/">Marc Doussard,</a> one of the studies co-authors.</p><p dir="ltr">In response to the report, Scott DeFife of the National Restaurant Association said, &ldquo;These misleading efforts use a very narrow lens and selective data to attack the industry for their own purposes.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Slicing the data at a different angle, DeFife noted, &ldquo;40 percent of line staff workers in restaurants are students.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Tuesday&rsquo;s reports come after a year of walk outs at fast-food restaurants and retail stores across the country, including <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/low-wage-workers-walk-out-across-chicago-108255">this summer in Chicago. </a></p><p dir="ltr"><em>Shannon Heffernan is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/shannon_h">@shannon_h</a></em></p></p> Tue, 15 Oct 2013 17:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/half-fast-food-workers-rely-public-assistance-make-ends-meet-108929 Artifacts from life, excluded workers tell their stories in 10 objects http://www.wbez.org/news/labor/artifacts-life-excluded-workers-tell-their-stories-10-objects-108871 <p><p dir="ltr">Millions of workers in the U.S. are beyond the reach of basic labor protections. Either by law or by practice, they are excluded from minimum wage laws, overtime rules or the right to organize. Earlier this year, WBEZ profiled some of these workers in the series <a href="http://www.wbez.org/exceptions-rule-108610">Exceptions to the Rule.</a></p><p dir="ltr">But that wasn&rsquo;t the end of the conversation.</p><p dir="ltr">Recently, WBEZ combined forces with Heather Radke at the <a href="http://www.uic.edu/jaddams/hull/">Jane Addams Hull House Museum,</a> an organization dedicated to the legacy of social reformer Jane Addams and her many colleagues. Together, we worked with three labor organizations to host an exhibition.</p><p dir="ltr">We asked participants to choose artifacts and write labels about their personal experiences as excluded workers. You can navigate the online version of this exhibition by clicking on the images below or scrolling through the page. These labels are excerpted from the workers own words.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" style="width: 620px;"><tbody><tr><td><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/labor/artifacts-life-excluded-workers-tell-their-stories-10-objects-108871#cellphone"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/09 phone.jpg" title="" /></a></div></div></td><td><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/labor/artifacts-life-excluded-workers-tell-their-stories-10-objects-108871#pen"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/06 pen.jpg" title="" /></a></div></div></td><td><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/labor/artifacts-life-excluded-workers-tell-their-stories-10-objects-108871#tamale"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/04tamale.jpg" title="" /></a></div></td><td><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/labor/artifacts-life-excluded-workers-tell-their-stories-10-objects-108871#measuringtape"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/02tape.jpg" title="" /></a></div></td><td><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/labor/artifacts-life-excluded-workers-tell-their-stories-10-objects-108871#notebook"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/08 notebook.jpg" title="" /></a></div></td></tr><tr><td><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/labor/artifacts-life-excluded-workers-tell-their-stories-10-objects-108871#desk"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/10desk.jpg" title="" /></a></div></td><td><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/labor/artifacts-life-excluded-workers-tell-their-stories-10-objects-108871#trashcan"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/01trash.jpg" title="" /></a></div></td><td><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/labor/artifacts-life-excluded-workers-tell-their-stories-10-objects-108871#screwdriver"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/05 screwdriver.jpg" title="" /></a></div></div></td><td><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/labor/artifacts-life-excluded-workers-tell-their-stories-10-objects-108871#painting"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/07 paint.jpg" title="" /></a></div></td><td><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="http://www.wbez.org/news/labor/artifacts-life-excluded-workers-tell-their-stories-10-objects-108871#cooler" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/03cooler.jpg" title="" /></div></td></tr></tbody></table></div><div class="image-insert-image "><br /><strong style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;">Donna K. Shaw</strong><br /><strong style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;"><a name="cellphone"></a>Cellphone</strong></div></div><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><strong>Mail Handler and Machine Operator at the Post Office<br />Access Living, Disabled Workers Want Work Now</strong></span></span></p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Online%20Museum_Cellphone_sized.jpg" style="height: 438px; width: 620px;" title="(Photo by Christine Frei)" /></p><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">I purchased this phone myself, and also purchased several apps that help me with translators. I use the phone to communicate with coworkers or customers that do not know ASL [American Sign Language] (which is almost everyone), including at work meetings where there is never an interpreter. The phone can be used to translate between ASL and spoken language through interpreters and pictures. It is almost a lifeline, without it I could not understand or communicate with other people.</span></span></p><p dir="ltr"><strong><span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><a name="pen"></a>Pen<br />Robert Hansen<br />Student at Northeastern Illinois University<br />Access Living, Disabled Workers Want Work Now</span></span></strong></p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Online%20Museum_Pen_sized.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title="(Photo by Christine Frei)" /></p><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">This helps me get through the day<br />The power of writing. My expressive tool.<br />The tool of expression &ndash; the pen.</span></span></p><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">We all know people with disabilities aren&#39;t even acknowledged when it comes to getting employment. I don&#39;t think people take us seriously. They may think, &lsquo;How can a legally blind person do this?&rsquo; I&#39;ve shown up for employment and sometimes I&#39;m led to believe that I&#39;m on target. I&#39;m glad when I get a rejection letter, so at least I know. But a lot of times, I don&rsquo;t get called at all. If I try to call and find out why, I get voicemail.</span></span></p><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;">One time a potential employer asked how I would get to work each day in an interview. But you are not supposed to ask that question.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;">I&rsquo;ve encountered other people who say, &ldquo;Oh you are so amazing.&rdquo; They are very patronizing.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;">The pen allows me to express myself and write about these experiences. My pen needs to be reliable. It&rsquo;s not going to leak or run out of ink. I need to be able to hold it in my hand. It&rsquo;s my therapy, my way to remember things, my way to calm my mind and relax.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;">A piece of paper is right here, while a voice can be forgotten. I can do a voice recording and accidentally hit the wrong button and it&rsquo;s gone. I don&rsquo;t have to hit save or remember a file type with a pen. The file type is universal. It puts my mind at ease, it&rsquo;s more intimate, it&rsquo;s more personal when I&rsquo;m hunched over writing with a pen. I sit here and write with my fingers. It&rsquo;s not using a $300 device, a pen can cost as little as a dollar, but it is valuable because it has the intimate touch that people enjoy. It&rsquo;s less of a commodity, it&rsquo;s not like you have the latest and greatest.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;">If we can pick up our pens, we can communicate what we need and want. I want people to know the power of communicating.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><strong><span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><a name="tamale"></a>Tamale Pot<br />Anonymous<br />Asociación Vendedores Ambulantes</span></span></strong></p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Online%20Museum_Tamale%20Pot_sized.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title="(Photo by Christine Frei)" /></p><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">I sell tamales. I use this pot to cook them. I leave them in there to keep warm and to carry them. It&rsquo;s a very functional object. It&rsquo;s the only object that works for cooking tamales. Without it I can&#39;t do anything. I can&#39;t work. I bought this pot because it&rsquo;s specifically a steamer.</span></span></p><p dir="ltr"><strong><span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><a name="measuringtape"></a>Measuring Type<br />Anonymous<br />Construction Worker<br />Latino Union</span></span></strong></p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Online%20Museum_TapeMeasure_sized.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title="(Photo by Christine Frei)" /></p><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="font-size:12px;">I do a lot with the tape measure. I use it to make sure that the length of everything is correct, from pieces of wood to windows. Without it my job is not possible. Numbers are a huge part of my life, and without this measuring tape, I&rsquo;d feel lost. I use it so much that I have to buy a new one every year. The old ones get rusty and break. Compared to some bigger and more expensive tools, it might look unimportant, even insignificant. But believe me, it is indispensable. I&rsquo;d say essential.</span></span></p><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="font-size:12px;">As an undocumented worker, I have battled unemployment. When I do find an opportunity, it is tough to actually get it due to competition and the bad economy. I often hang around Home Depot hoping for work. But lately its been difficult because the businesses do not like us loitering outside, and there has been trouble in the past with other groups of workers.</span></span></p><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="font-size:12px;">It is very difficult for undocumented workers to simply find work and keep a steady income.</span></span></p><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><strong><a name="notebook"></a>Notebook<br />Vicky Lugo<br />Vice President, Asociación Vendedores Ambulantes<br />facsimile</strong></span></span></p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Online%20Museum_Notebook_sized.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title="(Photo by Christine Frei)" /></p><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="font-size:12px;">I bought my notebook at a Target store. The notebook itself is not worth any value, but what is of tremendous value is what I have written in it.</span></span></p><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="font-size:12px;">In this notebook I keep a record of all agreements, discussion, notes, ideas, and projects. I keep everything that has to do with my work helping street vendors. With my notebook, I feel a sense of pride and power at the same time. I feel that this object is my life and in a way the air that I breathe because without it I have felt lost and empty.</span></span></p><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="font-size:12px;"><strong><a name="desk"></a>Higher Desk<br />Susan Aarup<br />Employment advocate, Disabled Workers Want Work Now</strong></span></span></p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Online%20Museum_Desk_Sized.jpg" style="height: 396px; width: 620px;" title="(Photo by Christine Frei)" /></p><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="font-size:12px;">This object is a higher desk. It helps me to do my job more effectively because I use a wheelchair and it gives me more space for sitting down at my desk.</span></span></p><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="font-size:12px;">If I get a higher desk it&rsquo;s a symbol that someone hired me &ndash; someone wanted me for something and my struggle to find a job was worth it.</span></span></p><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="font-size:12px;">If there wasn&rsquo;t a higher desk at a workplace it would symbolize that you aren&rsquo;t paying attention to what I need. It&rsquo;s my job to tell you that. But a lot of times people don&rsquo;t want to hear what I have to say.</span></span></p><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Employers don&rsquo;t provide accommodations easily. Some do, because they realize the importance people with disabilities bring.</span></span></p><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="font-size:12px;">When I have a higher desk it makes me feel in control. When I don&rsquo;t have a higher desk I just feel stuck. But I am not going to let myself be in that situation. I am going to say something.</span></span></p><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><span style="font-size:12px;">Accommodating people with disabilities is the law. But it also makes good business sense, because my money and my time are just as valuable as anyone else&rsquo;s.&nbsp;</span></span></p><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><strong><a name="trashcan"></a>Trash Can<br />Curtis Harris<br />Disabled Workers Want Work Now<br />facsimile</strong></span></span></p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Online%20Museum_TrashCan_sized.jpg" title="(Photo by Christine Frei)" /></p><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">I have been struggling to find a job in the the last year. I have been dealing with rejections from employers, disappointments and frustrations. I have put in over 100 applications with eight interviews with no callback. I&rsquo;m a person with autism associated with psychiatric disorders and it has made it harder for me to get interviews, let alone a job. In May 2013, the Employment Services Representative told me one of the red flags on my resume is a 15-year employment gap from 1996 to 2011. During those 15 years I attended college for two stints and did volunteer work. In addition, I had medical issues during those 15 years, which I have since resolved. I think employers look over my applications and resumes and toss them in the garbage while overlooking the accomplishments and volunteer work I did. Each time I make a call back to check on my job status they tell me they haven&rsquo;t reviewed it or they let me know they interviewed and hired another candidate.</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">I want to work to gain money, self-esteem, empowerment, and pride. </span></span></p><p><strong><span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><a name="screwdriver"></a>Screwdriver<br />Luis Torros<br />Construction Worker<br />Latino Union</span></span></strong></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Online%20Museum_Screw%20Driver_sized.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title="(Photo by Christine Frei)" /></p><p><span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><em>How did you get this object?</em><br />I bought it.</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><em>What do you do with this object?</em><br />I use it for all sorts of jobs. It has two tips, one crossed and one flat, and a hexagon for screws. I think that it is an indispensable tool in all of its uses, whether residential, commercial or industrial.</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><em>How do you feel when you use this object?</em><br />I feel the security of performing my job.</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><em>Who made this object?</em><br />Apparently it was made in China.</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><em>What do you most enjoy about your job?</em><br />What I most enjoy about my job is when the client is satisfied with the finished work.</span></span></p><p><strong><span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><a name="painting"></a>Basic Tools for Painting<br />Alejandro N. Serrano<br />Day laborer</span></span></strong></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Online%20Museum_Paint%20Roller_sized.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title="(Photo by Christine Frei)" /></p><p><span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">I get up very early hoping to be able to do what I like most, which is painting. I give thanks for the opportunity for another day looking for new clients and offering my painting services and making estimates. I feel excellent every time that I have the opportunity to use my tools and especially when I see my clients happy and content when the job is finished.</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">When the estimates are accepted I prepare my tools and even though they are basic, for me they are very important. Without them I wouldn&rsquo;t be able to finish my work. I take my toolbox and put in my roller, my brushes, paint tray, a stick for mixing paint before emptying it into the tray, etc. I head to the assigned address, say &ldquo;hi&rdquo; to my client and prepare the worksite.</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">I take the paint and stir it, I also take the brush and start to outline the corners of the walls and ceilings, tracing each line as straight as possible so as not to get any paint on any of the other walls, ceilings or floors. Once I finish that, I empty the paint into the tray and prepare my roller, which I soak in the paint in order to then slide it along the walls or ceilings.</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">I think that if I lost any of my tools it would be painful for me because even though they are easy to replace, each one of them has a different history to it. Thanks to these tools I have been able to get ahead and I have improved my painting technique. Each object reminds me of the different projects that I have had the opportunity to carry out throughout my career. For me, each project represents a work of art.</span></span></p><p><strong><span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;"><a name="cooler"></a>Thermos<br />Claudia Pérez<br />Asociación Vendedores Ambulantes</span></span></strong></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Online%20Museum_thermos_sized.jpg" title="(Photo by Christine Frei)" /></p><p><span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">With this thermos, I can keep the champurrado warm for customers. The thermos allows me to work, which makes me feel proud. I have been arrested three times. My children have been arrested. I have gotten tickets. I have paid fines. All for being a vendor.</span></span></p><p><strong>Program and exhibit curated by:</strong></p><p>Heather Radke, Exhibition Coordinator at the Jane Addams Hull House Museum<br />Isis Ferguson, Program Coordinator at the Jane Addams Hull House Museum<br />Shannon Heffernan, WBEZ reporter</p><p dir="ltr"><em>If you liked reading these stories, you might also enjoy visiting the current exhibition at the Jane Addams Hull House Museum, <a href="http://www.uic.edu/jaddams/hull/_museum/_exhibits/_UnfinishedBusiness/_21stcenthomec/21stcenturyhomeecon.html">&ldquo;Unfinished Business: 21st Century Home Economics.&rdquo;</a> &nbsp;That exhibition was the inspiration for this project and includes artifacts and labels from domestic workers.</em></p><p dir="ltr"><em>Feel free to tell us which artifact you would chose to represent your work and why in the comments below.</em></p></p> Tue, 08 Oct 2013 14:44:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/labor/artifacts-life-excluded-workers-tell-their-stories-10-objects-108871 Home care union celebrates anniversary http://www.wbez.org/news/home-care-union-celebrates-anniversary-108625 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Home care Union.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Thirty years ago this month, a small group of Chicago workers formed a union that helped ignite a labor movement across the country. The workers were largely African-American women who provided care for seniors and people with disabilities.</p><p>Because home care workers were exempt from some federal labor laws, their wages were as low as a dollar an hour. In 1983, they decided to unionize.&nbsp; It was one of the first unions of it&rsquo;s kind in the nation.<br />&nbsp;<br />Keith Kelleher is President of SEIU Healthcare Illinois and Indiana. He remembers marching at the capital and hearing testimonies.</p><p>&ldquo;Our president at the time said, &lsquo;We are being paid a dollar an hour. We are grown women who have been working all of our lives.&rsquo; Later in that session they outlawed it and increased everyone from a dollar an hour to [the minimum wage] of $3.35,&rdquo; Kelleher said.<br /><br />The methods used in Chicago spread across the nation, according to Kelleher, but he says there is still a long way to go. In many states home care workers are still not included in the minimum wage. And in Illinois, some employers hire home care workers as private contractors to get around the minimum wage and overtime standards.</p><p>Saturday, September 6th, union leaders and home care workers will convene in Chicago to mark the union&rsquo;s anniversary.</p><p><em>Shannon Heffernan is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/shannon_h" target="_blank">@shannon_h</a></em></p></p> Fri, 06 Sep 2013 10:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/home-care-union-celebrates-anniversary-108625