By Micah Uetright for In These Times – It’s a delicious irony for teachers unions that Rauner College Prep—a Chicago charter school named after Bruce Rauner, Illinois’ virulently anti-union governor—may soon have a union. On March 3, the Chicago Association of Charter Teachers and Staff (ACTS) announced an organizing drive at the Noble Network of Charter Schools, which has 18 campuses across Chicago, including Rauner College Prep. If the campaign is successful, Noble will become the nation’s largest unionized charter network. The addition of Noble’s 800 teachers and staff to its ranks would also give ACTS, a local of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), an impressive density in Chicago’s charter market—the union says it would represent as many as 40 percent of charter teachers in Chicago. About 10 percent of charter teachers nationwide are unionized, according to the pro-charter Center for Education Reform. The Chicago Teachers Union, a sister local to ACTS, has been a bright spot in a bleak labor landscape. But traditional public school educators aren’t the only ones on the move.
By Yana Kunichoff for Yes! Magazine – He was among the first of at least 120 young, primarily Black men whom Chicago police officers would torture into false confessions. Yet while many who suffer at the hands of the police never get justice, Smith’s story ended differently. More than 40 years later, following the passage of historic reparations legislation, he became one of the first Black people in America to be granted reparations for racial violence. After receiving parole, Smith moved out of the city and attempted to rebuild his life. But his struggles were far from over. Given the conviction on his record, Smith faced difficulty in everything from finding work to accessing his car insurance benefits. He remained haunted by his experiences as a teen inside the interrogation room and never felt at ease in Chicago again—until May 6, 2015.
By Andy Grimm for Chicago Sun Times – Prosecutors on Thursday tacked on 16 new counts to the first-degree murder charges against Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke in the shooting of Laquan McDonald. A new indictment handed up by a grand jury last week adds the 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm, apparently one for each shot Van Dyke fired at McDonald, special prosecutor Joseph McMahon said in a hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse. The new indictment, returned on March 16, still includes the six counts of first-degree murder and one count of official misconduct that were charged in November 2015, when the case was being handled by former State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez.
By Joyce Nelson for Counter Punch – Last weekend, the good folks of Toronto, Ontario learned that their elected officials at City Hall are considering selling off the Toronto Parking Authority – which operates dozens of municipal parking lots as well as on-street parking. It’s a big, stupid idea that indicates our “city fathers” apparently don’t read, but also that they can’t see through the latest scam being sold by some corporate lobbyist. It’s as though the Innocents in Toronto City Hall have never heard of the parking meter scandal that ate Chicago and has become an unmitigated disaster – even though more press has likely been given to that fiasco than to any other public-private partnership (P3) undertaken in recent U.S. history.
By Joan Brunwasser for Op Ed News – Yael Brunwasser: It was important for me to stand in solidarity with women all over the country (and world!) who refuse to be plunged back in time with our rights revoked. Trump has been so blatantly disrespectful and misogynistic, it’s appalling. It was incredibly empowering to be surrounded by hundreds of thousands of marchers in Chicago who stand for equality and human rights. The march was started by women, but came to represent all minorities and discriminated groups that Trump has targeted with hateful rhetoric. This is what democracy is about and it was truly energizing to take that power back and express our frustrations and demands of this new administration.
By Sarah Lazare for AlterNet – In a September 2014 report prepared for the United Nations Committee Against Torture, a grassroots effort called We Charge Genocide documented that, “Young people of color in communities across Chicago are consistently profiled, targeted, harassed, and subjected to excessive force by the (predominantly white) [Chicago Police Department]—leaving far too many physically injured, killed, and emotionally scarred.” The investigation, led by directly impacted Chicago residents, determined that between 2009 and 2011, 92 percent of all CPD Taser uses targeted black or Latino people. Black residents are 10 times more likely to be shot by the CPD than their white counterparts, the probe found…
By Dianne Feeley for Labor Notes – Last week auto workers from Chicago and Detroit made a pilgrimage to the birthplace of auto workers’ sit-down strikes to lend solidarity to workers who’ve been locked out for eight months and counting. Honeywell locked out 320 aerospace workers with Auto Workers (UAW) Local 9 in South Bend, Indiana, on May 9 after they voted 270-30 to reject the company’s offer. Another 40 Honeywell workers with Local 1508 at in Green Island, New York, are also locked out. Honeywell was demanding the power to change health care premiums and deductibles unilaterally. The rejected proposal would also have eliminated cost-of-living increases and retiree health care…
By Nadia Prupis for Common Dreams – Chicago police systematically violated people’s civil rights by routinely using excessive force, particularly against African-Americans and Latinos, according to a bombshell report (pdf) from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) released Friday. The report is the conclusion of a 13-month investigation into the Chicago Police Department (CPD), launched after the October 2014 police killing of 17-year-old black Chicago resident Laquan McDonald, whose fatal shooting was captured by the patrol car’s dashboard camera. According to the inquiry, police routinely violated the Fourth Amendment by using “unnecessary and avoidable” force, including deadly force, which investigators attributed to poor training and accountability systems.
By Natalie Y Moore for The Guardian – In a couple of days, President Barack Obama will give a farewell speech in his adopted hometown of Chicago. This is the city to which he moved as a young man in the 1980s, to work asacommunityorganiser, inspired by Harold Washington, the city’s first black mayor. Chicago is also where Obama met his wife, Michelle, a native of the city, had two daughters and launched a dazzling political career. Obama’s swan song will take place a touch north of Bronzeville, the South Side neighbourhood historically known as the “Black Belt”. When African Americans left the south in droves a century ago as part of the great migration, this is where they landed if Chicago was the final destination.
By Curtis Black for The Chicago Reporter – On a frigid evening near the close of 2016, while going to a meeting at Goose Island, I was a bit startled to recall another frigid gathering there eight years earlier. In 2008, Barack Obama was president-elect, the economy was collapsing, and the workers at Republic Windows and Doors occupied their factory to protest its sudden shutdown. You stepped inside the building and saw the very serious faces of blue-collar workers, mainly black and Latino, who had taken a very serious step at great personal risk in order to take back some control over their future—and perhaps set an example for the rest of us.
By Timothy Mclaughlin for The Huffington Post – Chicago will pay around $5.4 million in settlements for two men killed by police officers after the city council voted to approve the payments on Wednesday. The estate of Cedrick Chatman, 17, who was shot and killed by police officers in January 2013, was awarded $3 million, while the estate of Darius Pinex, 27, who was killed during a 2011 traffic stop, was awarded $2.36 million. Both men were black. Both killings brought increased scrutiny of the Chicago Police Department for its use of deadly force as well as criticism of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s handling of shootings involving the police.
By Sam Charles for Chicago Sun Times – Thousands of people marched and protested through downtown Chicago on Wednesday night, voicing their disdain — in no uncertain terms — with Tuesday’s election of Donald Trump to be the 45th president. The protest began shortly before 5 p.m. outside the Trump Tower at 401 N. Wabash. What began as a group of a few dozen soon grew to a crowd of about 1,800 to 2,000 people after three groups combined into one, said Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi
By Leah Fried for Labor Notes – Extracting wins from the boss has never been easy—and union membership hovering at a low 11 percent isn’t making it any easier. But a good way to boost our numbers and power is to partner with people who are organized in other ways, building a broader movement as we build our unions. For several years the Chicago Teachers Union has put incredible effort into building unity—not only among its members, but also with parents and neighborhood groups.
By David Moberg for In These Times – The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) reached a last-minute deal with the Board of Education late Monday night, narrowly averting a strike. “There will be classes in the morning,” said CTU President Karen Lewis, announcing the tentative contract agreement. Chicago teachers had planned to strike starting Tuesday in an escalation of their campaign to defend their jobs and improve the education of the students and the communities they serve.
By Aaron Cynic for Chicagoist – Fifteen people were arrested Sunday afternoon after locking down the intersection of Wacker and Michigan to protest a police tactical officers’ conference happening in suburban Hoffman Estates. Activists blocked traffic for nearly 90 minutes by chaining themselves together with lockboxes, tubes wrapped around their arms made of pipe, duct tape and metal wiring. Several dozen flanked the sidewalks on each side of the intersection, chanting “No borders, no pipelines, no prisons or police,” and “cops, SWAT & soldiers, do yourselves a favor, stay the fuck away from our Muslim friends and neighbors.”