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Finally. Statement on Override of Governor Rauner’s Budget Veto

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Chicago, IL – Today, the Illinois House joined the Senate in overriding Governor Rauner’s veto of the state budget giving the state its first budget in years. The following is a statement from Amisha Patel, Executive Director of Grassroots Collaborative.

“Finally, state legislators have pushed aside Rauner’s obstructionism to pass a state budget. Community residents have been fighting for years for a fully funded budget and are clear that this is not enough. The budget provides insufficient funding for critical services and asks Illinois families to foot the bill instead of demanding the wealthy pay their fair share by implementing progressive revenue solutions such as closing the carried interest loophole or a financial transaction tax. But it is a budget and it is progress.

At the same time we recognize this step forward, we deplore the lives and livelihoods lost as a result of it taking so long to get to this point. We mourn for every breast cancer screening that came too late, for the jobs lost across the state, and for every resident denied the help they needed as result of this tragic and unnecessary crisis.

Grassroots Collaborative thanks the tens of thousands of Illinois residents who worked to make their voices heard by writing letters, making phone calls, and visiting legislators. We remain committed to fighting for a People’s Agenda that puts the interests of the people of Illinois over those of deep-pocketed political donors.”

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Grassroots Collaborative is Hiring

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We are excited to announce that Grassroots Collaborative is hiring for 2 positions. We are eager to fill these positions as soon as possible, and appreciate your help spreading the word!

Grassroots Collaborative is an equal-opportunity employer.  People of color strongly encouraged to apply.  For consideration, send a resume, cover letter, and three references to hiring@thegrassrootscollaborative.org.  No calls, please.  Position open until filled.

Chicago-based Campaigns Organizer: We are seeking an energetic organizer to help lead our People’s Agenda Campaign work in Chicago. We are developing exciting plans for the summer and d fall, and are looking for a qualified candidate who is excited to fight against Rauner’s anti-working family agenda and for a bold new agenda that will make Illinois a state where all of our communities can thrive.

Read Job Description

TITLE: Organizer – People’s Agenda Campaign

SUPERVISED BY: Field Director

SUPERVISES: some supervisory responsibility over interns

SALARY/HOURLY, EXEMPT OR NONEXEMPT: Salaried, Exempt, Full-time position

ORGANIZATIONAL SUMMARY: Grassroots Collaborative (501c3) builds power with working families through strategic community-labor organizing, grassroots leadership development, civic engagement, and research. We organize to win progressive policies and systems-change that improve the lives of low-to-moderate income residents and communities of color. We utilize popular education to build consciousness, and build organization that unites residents to create transformative change for a more just society. Our affiliated 501c4, Grassroots Illinois Action, works to build community political power through issue advocacy and electoral strategies.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION: Grassroots Collaborative engages in campaigns to make corporations, big banks, and the rich pay their fair share.  Currently, our member organizations are facing the combined threat of public financial crises on three levels – Chicago Public Schools, Chicago, and Illinois.  As part of a larger strategy to win revenue for the programs, schools, and services our communities deserve, we have launched the People’s Agenda campaign.  Combining legislative, communications and organizing strategies this campaign advances bold demands for major investments in our communities and taxes on the wealthy and large corporations to pay for those investments.  

POSITION SUMMARY: We are seeking an experienced community, labor or coalition organizer with campaign experience.  The campaign organizer will help develop campaign strategy, coordinate campaign activity among our member organizations, conduct popular education sessions and lead public actions to grow public awareness of our campaign and build pressure on our targets to adopt the People’s Agenda demands.  The organizer is responsible for leading a field campaign this summer among members and allies to engage voters to win adoption of recently passed legislation, as well as growing the coalition supporting the People’s Agenda beyond the summer work.  This position calls for a person with bold ideas, tactical creativity, and a commitment to developing long-term strategies that generate intermediate wins.  We are looking for a strong team player, who can also work independently.  The ideal candidate will have an ability to identify strategic opportunities as well as have a deep commitment to movement-building.

Job Responsibilities:

  • Coalition Building – Identify and recruit new People’s Agenda endorsers.  Maintain communication with coalition partners and engage them in digital, legislative and street actions.

  • Political Education & Leadership Development– Conduct workshops and presentations that educate our member organizations about the origins of our fiscal crises and prepare members to lead elements of the People’s Agenda campaign.  
  • Communications – Work with the Communications Director to create and amplify a public narrative about the need to curb the power of the finance sector, and for the wealthy to pay their fair share.
  • Direct Action – Develop and execute a variety of member-led actions that move our campaign objectives forward.

  • Legislative – Implement grassroots lobbying strategies to educate legislators about the People’s Agenda platform and to move them to support our policy solutions.

  • Other roles: Participate in Grassroots Collaborative staff team and other organization-wide meetings and activities.  Additional roles and responsibilities as assigned.

QUALIFICATIONS

  • At least 2 years full-time labor, community or constituency organizing experience
  • Strong organizational, leadership, and problem-solving skills
  • Ability to motivate and inspire others
  • Willingness to work irregular hours, including evenings and weekends, and travel to Springfield
  • An energetic commitment to social justice and working within an anti-oppression framework
  • Experience with corporate campaigns, interest in Wall Street accountability a plus
  • Coalition building and coordination skills
  • Excellent verbal communication and writing skills.  Ability to communicate effectively with staff and grassroots leaders
  • Spanish language skills are a plus
  • Proficient in Excel, Powerpoint, Word
  • Excellent team player, able to meet deadlines and work independently, innovative, creative

Work Environment:  

  • This role routinely uses standard office equipment such as computers, phones, photocopiers, scanners, filing cabinets, and fax machines 
  • While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to talk or hear. The employee frequently is required to stand; walk; use hands to finger, handle or feel; and reach with hands and arms. The employee must frequently lift and/or move objects up to 25 pounds and occasionally lift and/or move objects up to 40 pounds 
  • Some travel in the Chicago metro area is required, along with Springfield 
  • Workplace is a smoke-and drug-free environment

Grassroots Collaborative is an equal-opportunity employer.  People of color strongly encouraged to apply.  For consideration, send a resume, cover letter, and three references to hiring@thegrassrootscollaborative.org.  No calls, please.  Position open until filled.

People’s Agenda Campaign Organizer

Coalition Organizer (Central Illinois): We are working with partners to launch new coalition work in cities outside of Chicago. We will begin this summer in Peoria. We are looking to hire a coalition organizer based in Central Illinois (or someone willing to travel regularly), with solid labor and/or community organizing experience.

Read Job Description

TITLE: Coalition Organizer

SUPERVISED BY: Field Director

SUPERVISES: some supervisory responsibility over interns

SALARY/HOURLY, EXEMPT OR NONEXEMPT: Salaried, Exempt, Full-time position

ORGANIZATIONAL SUMMARY: Grassroots Collaborative (501c3) unites 11 member organization to build power with working families through strategic community-labor organizing, grassroots leadership development, civic engagement, and research. We organize to win progressive policies and systems-change that improve the lives of low-to-moderate income residents and communities of color. We utilize popular education to build consciousness, and build organization that unites residents to create transformative change for a more just society. Our affiliated 501c4, Grassroots Illinois Action, works to build community political power through issue advocacy and electoral strategies.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION: Grassroots Collaborative engages in campaigns to make corporations, big banks, and the rich pay their fair share.  Our member organizations are facing the combined impact of public financial crises (state budget impasse) and decades of disinvestment from communities of color.  As part of a larger strategy to win revenue for the programs, schools, and services our communities deserve, we have launched the People’s Agenda campaign.  Combining legislative, communications and organizing strategies this campaign advances bold demands for major investments in our communities and taxes on the wealthy and large corporations to pay for those investments.   In the summer of 2017 we are launching an initiative to begin building labor-community alliances in 3-4 Illinois cities, to grow the power of working families and communities of color beyond Chicago and across the state.

POSITION SUMMARY:  We are seeking an experienced community or labor organizer, either based in Central Illinois, or able to travel and spend 3-4 days/week in Peoria and additional communities.  The organizer will work closely with Grassroots Collaborative member organizations in those geographies, and ally organizations as well, to engage grassroots leaders in the People’s Agenda Campaign and other local issues that are identified by those leaders.  The organizer will work with our partners to launch a pilot project in Peoria, and will start organizing in a 2nd geography in the fall of 2017.  The organizer will help recruit and develop coalition partners, contribute to campaign strategy, communicate with and motivate existing and potential members, assist in legislative efforts, educate and mobilize low information voters, conduct popular education sessions, and lead public actions. The ideal candidate will be reliable, engaging, and hold a deep commitment to leadership development and empowerment.

Job Responsibilities:

  • Coalition Building – Identify and recruit new People’s Agenda endorsers and local organizations that want to work together in a labor-community coalition  Maintain communication with partners and engage them in digital, legislative and street actions.
  • Political Education & Leadership Development– Conduct workshops and presentations that educate union members and grassroots leaders about the origins of our fiscal crises and prepare members to lead elements of the People’s Agenda campaign. 
  • Communications – Work with the Communications Director to create and amplify a locally appropriate public narrative about the need to curb the power of the finance sector, and for the wealthy to pay their fair share. 
  • Direct Action – In collaboration with our partners, develop and execute a variety of member-led actions that move our campaign objectives forward.
  • Legislative – Implement grassroots lobbying strategies to educate legislators about the People’s Agenda platform and to move them to support our policy solutions.  
  • Other roles: Participate in Grassroots Collaborative staff team and other organization-wide meetings and activities.  Additional roles and responsibilities as assigned.

QUALIFICATIONS

  • A minimum of 2 years full-time labor, community or constituency organizing experience
  • Strong organizational, leadership, and problem-solving skills
  • Ability to motivate and inspire others
  • Willingness to work irregular hours, including evenings and weekends, and travel
  • An energetic commitment to social justice and working within an anti-oppression framework
  • Coalition building and coordination skills
  • Excellent verbal communication and writing skills.  Ability to communicate effectively with staff and grassroots leaders
  • Demonstrated ability to lead direct actions and events
  • Spanish language skills are a plus
  • Proficient in Excel, Powerpoint, Word
  • Excellent team player, able to meet deadlines and work independently, innovative, creative
  • Valid Driver’s License

Work Environment:  

This role routinely uses standard office equipment such as computers, phones, photocopiers, scanners, filing cabinets, and fax machines.

  • While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to talk or hear. The employee frequently is required to stand; walk; use hands to finger, handle or feel; and reach with hands and arms. The employee must frequently lift and/or move objects up to 25 pounds and occasionally lift and/or move objects up to 40 pounds
  • Travel within Central Illinois, between Central Illinois and Chicago is required. Occasionally, some out-of-the-area travel may be expected 
  • Workplace is a smoke-and drug-free environment

Grassroots Collaborative is an equal-opportunity employer.  People of color strongly encouraged to apply.  For consideration, send a resume, cover letter, and three references to hiring@thegrassrootscollaborative.org.  No calls, please.  Position open until filled.

Central Illinois Coalition Organizer

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People’s Agenda Update

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Springfield ended their regular legislative session – once again without a budget in place. But instead of packing up and going home for the summer, they are going into overtime. This means that there is still time to win the fully-funded budget that our communities deserve.

But that’s not all we’ll be fighting for. In the last few weeks of the regular session Grassroots Collaborative, working with our partners and allies, moved forward some key pieces of the Illinois People’s Agenda platform.

Click here to send a quick thank you to the legislators who helped champion the Illinois People’s Agenda this legislative session.

$15 Minimum Wage SB 81 (Senator Hutchinson/ Rep. Guzzardi) –

Legislation to raise the state minimum wage to $15/hr passed out of the Illinois House and Senate and is now headed to the Governor’s desk.


Illinois Trust Act SB 31 (President Cullerton /Rep. Hernandez /Rep. Welch) –

Legislation to provide protection for Illinois immigrant communities passed out of both the Illinois House and Senate and is headed to the Governor’s desk. 


Elected Representative School Board HB 1774 (Rep. Martwick/Sen. Raoul) –

Legislation to give control of the Chicago school board back to the people of Chicago passed out of the House and Senate. After one more vote in the House (on an amendment) it will be headed to the Governor’s desk.


Closing the Carried Interest Tax Loophole SB 1719 (Rep. Welch/Sen. Biss) –

Legislation that will close the expensive carried interest tax loophole in Illinois passed out of the Senate and is currently being considered as a revenue option in the House budget negotiations. 


Restoring Childcare Assistance for Low-Income Students HB 3213 (Rep. Wallace/Sen. Aquino/Sen. Biss)

Legislation to restore the cuts made to the child care assistance program passed out of the House and Senate and is headed to the Governor’s desk. 


Payment Prioritization HB 3871 (Rep. Martwick) –

Legislation to prioritize paying for human services and education before Wall Street banks passed out of the House executive committee. Bill has been granted an extension to June 30th to be passed. 


TIF Money for School Wrap-Around Services HB 3720 (Rep. Harper) –

Legislation creates parameters for TIF surpluses and mandates that money is used for school-based social services like social workers and school nurses, and special education services. Bill passed the Illinois House and will be taken up in the Senate in the future.  


During this overtime session we will be asking you to contact your legislators and Governor Rauner at key points to make sure that this legislation gets over the finish line. But before we do that we want to ask you to take a moment to thank our champions in the legislature who helped us get to this point.

Click here to send a message thanking the sponsors of People’s Agenda legislation.

And THANK YOU for everything you have done to move the People’s Agenda platform forward. I look forward to fighting alongside you in the months to come.

Together we will win the state we deserve.

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IL Senate Passes Hedge Fund Tax to Close Loophole

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Illinois Department of Revenue Estimates SB 1719 Would Raise $1.7 Billion for State in First 12 Months

Chicago, IL – On Tuesday, May 23rd, the Illinois Senate voted 34-24-1 in favor of passing SB 1719. The legislation places a privilege tax on Hedge Fund and Private Equity Managers like Bruce Rauner and Ken Griffin who exploit a federal tax loophole to get a lower tax rate than that paid by many working Americans.  

Amisha Patel, Executive Director of Grassroots Collaborative, explained, “This is great news for Illinois residents that have been languishing under an extended budget impasse. Illinois needs new revenue. SB 1719 generates significant revenue – raising it from  those who have profited for years off of a rigged tax system, instead of asking for more sacrifices from our most vulnerable residents.”   

“This is an important step in creating the kind of state we want to live in,” stated Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston), lead sponsor of SB 1719. “We have a small group of very wealthy individuals using an archaic loophole to avoid paying their share, at the expense of other taxpayers and vital social services. Illinois now has an opportunity to right this wrong, to move towards greater fairness, and raise $1.7 billion in new annual revenue that our state desperately needs.”

Representative Welch (D-Hillside), lead sponsor of the legislation in the Illinois House added, “I believe that to those whom much is given much is required- and so far Illinois Hedge Funds have given very little and taken an awful lot. At a time when our seniors are being asked to go without, our public universities are at risk, and shelters are being shut down we can not afford to wait. I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues in the House to quickly pass this legislation and get it on the Governor’s desk.”

“The people that make the most of this loophole will not change their line of work if it is eliminated. They make plenty of money with or without it, and the tax advantage that they receive due to this rule is not the reason they are in it. They are in the business because they make a ton of money doing it. And that is OK. But the absurd advantage they receive due to this rule is just that; absurd! So simply change the law so that it treats them the same way that John Q Public is treated…or myself, I might add, who paid in last year at a 38% rate (happily so) on a pretty good number,” concluded Stephen Prince with the Patriotic Millionaires, CEO of Sterling Card Solutions.

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IL Senate Passes Illinois Trust Act

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On Thursday, the Illinois Trust Act passed out of the Illinois Senate with a  31-21 vote.

From Illinois Patch:

The Illinois Senate passed a bill aimed at encouraging cooperation between undocumented immigrants and state law enforcement agencies while discouraging unwarranted cooperation between federal immigration. The Trust Act, sponsored by Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago), passed 31-21 Thursday and will be taken up by the House this week.

“If someone is going to be detained in Illinois it should be because an actual crime has occurred, not because of how they look, what they believe or what paperwork they may or may not have,” said Cullerton.

The Senate proposal, SB31, would ban the detention of immigrants in local jails by federal authorities without criminal warrants, stop federal agents from arresting people inside state-funded school or health care facilities, and bar any local participating in a federal immigrant or religious registry. The bill would also strengthen legal protections for immigrant victims of crimes.

Read more

Illinois Dems Target Carried Interest Loophole

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Legislation addressing the so-called “carried interest loophole” is gaining momentum in Illinois after the release of data finding the measure would generate $473 million for the cash-starved state.

Grassroots Collaborative, a coalition of labor unions and human service organizations, April 19 touted passage of a new privilege tax on private equity firms, hedge funds and other financial organizations with the release of “ Illinois Billionaires and Their Lucrative Loophole.” The report, released in conjunction with Hedge Clippers, a similar coalition, blasts a small group of wealthy investment managers for failing to pay their fair share of state taxes. The report calls on the Illinois General Assembly to close the loophole and fund state programs hampered by a budget crisis that has dragged on for almost two years.

“Illinois’s private equity and hedge funds are conservatively estimated to be earning $4.8 billion per year in under-taxed carried interest,” the report concludes. “A state bill to recapture this revenue at the ordinary income level has strong sponsorship in both houses of the state legislature, and it would raise at least $473 million each year for schools, health care and essential public services in Illinois.”

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Rauner Donors Get Visit From Upset Residents on Tax Evasion Trolley Tour

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Community Groups Demand Hedge Fund Managers Profiting From Carried Interest Loophole Pay Fair Share to Help Solve State Budget Crisis

 

Chicago, IL – On Thursday, community residents being impacted by the school funding crisis and state budget impasse took part in a Tax Evasion Trolley Tour to the homes of Hedge Fund political donors who have profited off of the carried interest loophole at the expense of schools and vital social services.   

The first stop on the trolley tour was the $20 million dollar home of Donald Wilson, founder of DRW Trading Group. Wilson has personally benefited from the carried interest loophole and made significant political contributions to both Governor Rauner and Chicago Mayor Emanuel. Participants were joined by Representative Welch (D-Hillside), lead sponsor of HB 3393, a bill that would generate close to a half billion dollars by placing a privilege tax on people like Wilson.

Joining with community members, Representative Welch hand-delivered a large overdue tax bill to Wilson’s front door.

“It’s okay to own a nice home, everyone dreams of being successful and living a good life. But to those who much is given, much is required. What we are saying is if you have the privilege to live in a $20 million dollar house you should pay your fair share in taxes and that means closing the carried interest loophole,” stated Representative Welch to the energetic crowd.   

Alejandro Sanchez, Safe Passage program coordinator with the Brighton Park Neighborhood Council added, “In our community, shootings have increased by 300% between 2013 and 2016. I have a question for Don Wilson and others like him who are profiting off of this loophole. Do you think that skimping on your tax bill is worth students in Brighton Park losing their after-school programs and guidance counselors, or domestic violence centers being closed, or more young people dead because of massive disinvestment in anti-violence programs?”

Participants left sidewalk messages outside Wilson’s home, citing the devastation caused by the state’s lack of sufficient revenue. In addition to visiting Donald Wilson, the Tax Evasion Trolley Tour went to the homes of Sam Zell, Ken Griffin, and Dmitry Balyasny, all deep-pocketed political donors who have capitalized on a rigged tax system resulting in the current school and state funding crisis.

“The impacts on our communities are real – increasing violence, students forced to stop their college educations, seniors going without home care and needed programs like meals on meals, immigrant families losing programs that assist them, and the prospect of our schools being closed 3 weeks early, due to lack of revenue. We organized this tour because these impacts feel real to us, but standing here in front of multi-million dollar mansions, it’s hard to imagine they feel real to these Hedge Fund managers. We want them to know that the money they are getting from the carried interest loophole isn’t being pulled from thin air – it is coming from our community programs and schools,” explained Abbie Illenberger, Field Director of Grassroots Collaborative.

Grassroots Collaborative expects HB 3393 to be voted on in the Illinois House next week.

Photos from the Tax Evasion Trolley Tour can be found here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/ac8iwhjl3y50a2f/AABXPqa9Nd1lNJyrmysLIzMha?dl=0

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TRUST Act Passes Senate Executive Committee

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From the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights:

The Illinois Senate Executive Committee took an important step today toward making our state safer for immigrants and their families. The TRUST Act (SB-31J), filed by Senate President Cullerton, passed through the committee with 11 members voting in favor, five voting present, and no opposing votes. The bill creates a bright line between local police and federal immigration agents, and sends a message to Illinois’ immigrant residents that seeking police assistance will not result in their deportation.

The bill is a rebuke to the Trump administration’s xenophobic federal immigration policies that waste local law enforcement resources and create distrust between communities and local police. Representatives from immigrant, refugee, labor and domestic violence organizations spoke at the noon hearing today on key issues in the bill, which is slated to have a full senate vote within the week.

The TRUST Act’s main provisions will:

Bar federal immigration agents from schools and health facilities if they do not have a warrant,
Bar local law enforcement from engaging in immigration enforcement without a court-issued warrant,
Assist immigrant crime victims seeking legal protection, and Bar local participation in a federal registry based on country of origin or religion.
“This is a major step forward for our coalition leaders, who have worked tirelessly on our Campaign for a Welcoming Illinois.” said Lawrence Benito, chief executive officer at Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, one of the lead sponsors of the TRUST Act. “There is an immediate need for our elected officials to listen to our leaders and take action at the state level to keep communities safe and protected from these vicious threats and attacks on our rights.”
“We must all work together to help make our communities safer for everyone,” said Trisha Teofilo Olave, senior legal supervisor at Chicago’s National Immigrant Justice Center. “The TRUST Act would standardize the U visa certification process to create consistency for immigrant victims of crime and demystify the process for law enforcement agencies. It would help law enforcement comply with federal law, while also enhancing community trust and public safety.”

“Our communities are living in fear and facing threats to their livelihoods every day,” said Andy Kang, legal director at Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Chicago. “Illinois has the potential to be the most welcoming state for immigrants and refugees. Passing the TRUST Act would be a move in the direction of protecting our communities, and making sure they are safe.”
The bill is expected to reach the Senate floor soon. A broad coalition of community organizations are planning actions and scheduling in-district meetings during the upcoming spring legislative recess, to ensure the Illinois TRUST Act is passed through both the Illinois senate and the house this spring.

$15 Minimum Wage Passes Out of House Committee

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More exciting news, bill to raise the state of Illinois minimum wage to $15, HB 198, passed out of the House Labor and Commerce Committee and now waits for a vote on the Illinois House floor.

From the Chicago Tribune:

The House Labor and Commerce Committee voted 17 to 6 to recommend HB 198, which would increase the state’s hourly minimum wage from its current level of $8.25 to $15 by 2022. The first increase, to $9 an hour, would go into effect Jan. 1.

About 40 percent of Illinois residents earn less than $15 an hour.

The bill now heads to the full House for a vote and then to the Senate. Guzzardi said he feels confident it will arrive at Gov. Bruce Rauner’s desk, but the Republican governor’s support is a long shot. Rauner has stated his support for a smaller wage hike over a longer period.

Northbrook business panel asks village to opt out of minimum wage law
Northbrook business panel asks village to opt out of minimum wage law
Chicago, which approved a minimum wage hike in 2014, is on its way to $13 by 2019. Cook County, which approved a hike last year, is scheduled to reach $13 by 2020, though several suburban towns have opted out.

If the state law is adopted, Chicago and Cook County would have to comply with the $15 target and communities won’t be able to opt out, Guzzardi’s office said.

Local and state governments approved a wave of minimum wage increases last year, including to $15 in New York, California and Washington, D.C. But there is continued debate about the economic consequences. In Baltimore last month, the mayor vetoed a $15 minimum wage bill.

aelejalderuiz@chicagotribune.com

 

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Report Back: Lobbying Against Violence

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On Wednesday, March 22, Brighton Park Neighborhood Council (BPNC), Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and Grassroots Collaborative brought the People’s Agenda, a set of bills aimed at reinvesting in the People of Illinois, to the state capitol.

On this trip to Springfield our main goal was to meet with Illinois House members and ask that they co-sponsor the Violence Prevention Act (HB3166—Rep. Stratton), a comprehensive bill to prioritize five key areas of investment in order to stem the violence escalating in communities: street intervention programming, youth jobs, after school program investment, trauma-informed care, and supports for those in contact with the criminal justice system. Our meetings with legislators were productive, we gained 6 co-sponsors, including Elizabeth Hernandez (D-24), La Shawn K. Ford (D-8), Robert Martwick (D-19), Marcus C. Evans Jr. (D-33), Justin Slaughter (D-27), and Will Guzzardi (D-39).

busOn the bus to Springfield, Berenice Flores and Ebonee Stevenson, community organizers with BPNC and Grassroots Collaborative respectively, facilitated a Spanish and English training for our intergenerational group of 23 people on why we’re talking with our representatives and how to go about doing so.

“We are parents from different neighborhoods,” said Flores, and the “lack of resources there are for our kids is why we’re here.”

Stevenson added, “so we can stop begging for crumbs and start getting what our communities really need.” She encouraged folks, “If you see legislators who you want to talk to, don’t be afraid to speak. This is our show. We are fighting for our babies.”

9-year-old Sonya Sifore said, “It felt really good to lobby because I knew I was fighting for my rights and other people’s rights. I feel great that I got a representative to represent our state Illinois.”

Andres Barrera, BPNC member, said, “I felt as though the work that was done today was important but often neglected. We often hear about how only these rich corporations often lobby to get their point or law across but we often forget that we also have the power. It was interesting to meet the people who pass these laws that directly affect me and my community.”

Above all, our group expressed gratitude and concern. BPNC member Marivel Miranda said:

Es un gusto estar en este recinto en nuestro estado Illinois. Fue muy satisfactorio por el echo de que algunos de nuestro representantes nos apollaron en nuestros propositos, sobretodo en la violencia en nuestra ciuda de Chicago IL; mi mallor preocupación es tontas muertes de niños en los calles. Ojala este viaje nos sirva como comunidad para parar esta que esta afectando a tantos jovenes de nuestra ciudad y de nuestros barrios. Brighton Park es una comunidad que a sido muy afectada en todo, como lo mencionadado antenormente, como con los recortes en nuestras escuelas, que cada una de nuestras escuelas son templos de la enseñanza para nuestro hijos y futuros hombres y mujeres de vien en nuetra ciudad.

It’s a pleasure to be in our state of Illinois. It was very gratifying because some of our representatives supported our purpose, especially around addressing the increased violence in our state. My biggest concern is deaths of children in the streets. I hope this trip will serve our community, to stop this from affecting so many young people of our city and our neighborhoods. Brighton Park is a community that has been very affected in everything, as mentioned above, as with the cuts in our schools. Our schools are temples of teaching for our children and future men and women from around the city.