Immigration reform march set for Oct. 12th in Chicago [Chicago Sun-Times]

Chicago labor and immigration rights organizations on Thursday announced a mass _MG_0578march to Federal Plaza next week, which they hope will pressure Congress to vote on comprehensive immigration reform after the government shutdown.

The March for Dignity, Respect and Justice on Saturday, Oct. 12, will be part of a national week of action by labor and immigration rights organizations in Chicago to pressure Congress for a comprehensive immigration bill, and to demand President Obama end deportations.

“This [immigration reform] is the right thing to do for America, for our economy and our communities and for workers and our families,” said Laura Garza of SEIU Local 1. “We are here to call on Congress to give us a vote, and we want it now. . . . We call on our working people to join us on Saturday Oct. 12 because we believe in a society that values contributions, of aspiring citizens, and recognizing the integral role that Americans play in our past, present and future.”

Jorge Ramirez, president of the Chicago Federation of Labor criticized the government shutdown, calling it a “manufactured crisis.” He said the real issue of the day is immigration reform.

“To continue to ignore this problem isn’t going to make it go away,” Ramirez said. “Our families are suffering because of it. There’s over 11 million people that need to be brought from the shadows into the sunlight and Congress needs to act on this. They need to find the courage through all the bologna that’s going on in Washington to act on this in a meaningful way and to do it immediately.”

The march will begin at Teamster City at 1645 W. Jackson at noon, with supporters to march to Federal Plaza at 2 p.m. A rally will be held at 3 p.m.

Garza said she expects a good turnout: “At this point, we’re expecting thousands to show up. I can tell you the community has been out there really pushing for this.”

This Saturday, immigration reform supporters will drive to U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam’s (R-Ill.) district — which encompasses some west and northwest suburbs — to demand he vote for reform when Congress reconvenes. Saturday also marks a national day of rallies, with supporters expected to participate in rallies in more than 100 cities and the Capitol to demand speedy action.

Immigration reform has been a top goal for Obama during his second-term. But some advocates fear other issues — like the government shutdown aftermath and the Affordable Health Care Act — might deter from a passing vote on comprehensive immigration reform.


Twitter: @tinasfon

BY TINA SFONDELES Staff Reporter October 3, 2013

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Chicago Labor Leaders Announce Support For March for Dignity, Respect and Justice for Immigrants

Thousands are mobilizing in Chicago and across country to demand an immediate end to deportations and the passage of immigration reform legislation which will protect workers’ rights and provide for legalization for all workers.

(CHICAGO)— Chicago labor leaders will hold a press conference at 11 A.M. on Thursday, October 3rd to announce the large-scale March for Dignity, Respect and Justice for Immigrants on Saturday, October 12th. This event is a part of a national week of action for immigration reform.  Labor and immigrant rights organizations in Chicago and nationwide are escalating pressure on members of Congress to pass an immigration reform bill and demanding that President Obama end deportations immediately.

The organizations participating in Thursday’s press conference include the Chicago Federation of Labor, Illinois AFL-CIO, SEIU Local 1, Local 881 UFCW, Laborers, National Nurses United, Chicago Workers Collaborative and more. Leaders and representatives from labor organizations will be speaking about the urgent need for action on immigration reform and release details on the upcoming march through Chicago.

The October 12th March for Dignity, Respect and Justice for Immigrants will show that Chicagoans are demanding quick action to pass an immigration reform bill that contains a path to citizenship and keeps families together.   The march is Saturday October 12th.  People will gather at Teamster City at 1645 W. Jackson, at 12 P.M.  The march will begin at 2 P.M. and proceed down Jackson to Federal Plaza for a rally at 3 P.M.

DATE/TIME:    Thursday, October 3rd at 11 am

WHERE:           SEIU Local 1, 111 E. Wacker, 25th Floor, Chicago, IL 60601


  • Jorge Ramirez, President Chicago Federation of Labor
  • Tim Drea, Secretary-Treasurer, Illinois AFL-CIO
  • Laura Garza, Secretary-Treasurer, SEIU Local 1
  • Ron Powell, President, UFCW Local 881
  • Jose Zamarripa, Business Manager/Secretary-Treasurer Laborers’ Local 681
  • Leone Bicchiere, Chicago Workers Collaborative
  • Adelena Marshall, National Nurses United

VISUALS:         Signs, Flags,  and Union T-Shirts


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‘Paraíso’ [New York Times]


I first got the idea for this film (whose title, “Paraíso,” is the Spanish word for “Paradise”) when I was living in Chicago working as a film editor. One morning, as I sat at my desk in a high-rise downtown, a man dropped down inches from my window, cleaned it, and disappeared to the next floor. This momentary interaction seemed a perfect metaphor for life in many multiethnic American cities where the work of immigrants often goes unnoticed. I hoped to find out more about what motivated these men to spend their working days dangling hundreds of feet in the air.

Soon after I began filming, I met two brothers, Sergio Polanco and Jaime Polanco, and their cousin, Cruz Guzman. The Polanco brothers came to the United States from García de la Cadena, a small town in Zacatecas, Mexico, and the birthplace of a surprisingly large number of Chicago’s window washers and their families. The brothers and Mr. Guzman are employed by Corporate Cleaning Services, a well-established Chicago window cleaning company that, according to its president, Neal Zucker, requires all of its employees to be in compliance with federal and state guidelines governing employment eligibility. Window washers at this company receive health and life insurance benefits through membership in a union, SEIU Local 1, and can typically earn anywhere between $45,000 and $65,000 a year, depending on their skill level and speed.

My subjects work as many days a week as they can, assessing weather conditions on a daily if not hourly basis to determine the risk of injury from high winds. Fortunately, because of these precautions and other safety standards, window-washing-related fatalities are few. (According to the International Window Cleaning Association, in the United States, there were a total of 39 deaths between 2002 and 2012.) Work continues throughout the year, and even at temperatures just above freezing.

In my filming, what came through most was the men’s commitment to creating a better life for their immediate and extended families in the United States and Mexico through hard work and a dedication to an unusual occupation. These values continue to motivate window washers to climb over the ledges of high-rise buildings on many mornings all over the Chicago skyline.

This video is part of a series produced by independent filmmakers who have received support from the nonprofit Sundance Institute.


Nadav Kurtz  is a filmmaker based in New York. “Paraíso” screened at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and has won awards at festivals including the Tribeca Film Festival, A.F.I.-Docs and the Chicago International Film Festival.

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Insiders Have Parts in Post Office Development Saga [Chicago Sun-Times]

by Dan Mihalopoulos, 8/6/2013

Rendering shows the old Main Chicago Post Office after a planned first phase of its redevelopment. The view is westward along Congress Parkway. Courtesy Antunovich Associates

Much of the attention surrounding the old Chicago Main Post Office redevelopment has centered on the Monaco-based English developer Bill Davies and his patchy track record.

Others who stand to benefit from the recently approved plan have escaped notice. The site on the southwestern edge of downtown is in line for a potential investment of $4 billion over many years, and it’s often mentioned as the first Chicago casino site if the city ever gets a gambling license.

Public records show the City Council’s approval for the project at 433 W. Van Buren also includes several parcels around the old post office. One is at Clinton and Harrison and is owned by 527 S. Clinton LLC, whose investors include three longtime local businessmen:

◆ Richard Simon, the former police officer whose janitorial firm controversially won a big contract at O’Hare Airport last year from Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration.

The Chicago Sun-Times has reported that Simon failed to disclose that he sold a major stake in the janitorial company while it pursued the $99.4 million airport deal. The mayor’s aides declined to cancel the deal, even though the city can do so if bidders don’t provide current ownership information.

The Sun-Times also has reported that Simon employed a man convicted of racketeering in a case for which other defendants included the late Chicago mob boss Anthony “Big Tuna” Accardo.

◆ William Pacella, whose Bridgeport trucking company got business in the city’s old, scandal-plagued Hired Truck program.

Pacella had teamed up with Fred Bruno Barbara, a friend of former Mayor Richard M. Daley, in a failed bid for an Illinois riverboat casino license in the 1990s.

◆ George Bonomo, another Bridgeport businessman who also has invested in race horses with Pacella.

In 2010, Bonomo and Pacella got council approval for a 33-story building on their land just west of the old Post Office. It hasn’t been built.

Pacella, Bonomo and another investor, Vahooman Mirkhaef, have 26.67 percent stakes in 527 S. Clinton LLC, while Simon has a 10 percent interest, according to disclosures the company was required to make as part of the post office development’s zoning application.

Jack George, the zoning attorney for Davies’ company, International Property Developers North America Inc., said his client has an option to buy the 527 S. Clinton site, a parking lot. George said he dealt with an agent of the owners and was unaware of their identities.

Property records show 527 S. Clinton LLC took out a $4.2 million mortgage on the property in June 2012.

Final zoning approval for the post office plan came last month. The proposal calls for filling the massive old building with residences and stores while surrounding it with three high-rises. Construction to the west of the building on the Clinton Street land is seen as coming in a later phase, probably many years from now.

An earlier zoning plan for the post office in 2010 also included a 6.5-acre riverfront site known as Franklin Point, running southwest of Harrison and Wells. However, George said the property is no longer part of the post office zoning. He said Davies owned an option to buy the property, but it has lapsed.

Any work on the post office could lift the value of Franklin Point. Its owners include two New Yorkers who started the Rocawear clothing line with rap superstar Jay-Z.

Alex Bize and Naum Chernyavsky each own 35 percent of the company that controls the site, city records show.

BRACH’S GETTING BULLDOZED: Itasca-based ML Realty Partners LLC, owners of the old Brach’s candy plant at 401 N. Cicero, plans to start demolishing the remaining parts of it. A spokesman said asbestos work should be done by the fall and demolition should be finished by next spring. ML intends to replace the factory with a 520,000-square-foot industrial building.

The goal is to make the site more attractive for tenants and take advantage of an improving economy, the company said in a statement. But something else is spurring it into action.

It’s the threatened end of a $10.6 million city subsidy to help with demolition costs. The city in 2008 approved the deal for ML. It was due to expire last May 31 for lack of action at the site, but at the last moment the city extended it for six months.

A spokesman for the city’s Department of Housing and Economic Development said the deal requires the developer to finish a new building by Oct. 31, 2014. ML will have to hustle.

Hollywood did part of the job in 2007 when it blew up some of the Brach’s plant for a Batman movie.


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Local 1 Constitution and Bylaws Amended!

page 1At the June 1st, 2013 membership meeting, Local 1 members from 11 cities and 6 states overwhelmingly approved constitutional and bylaw amendments by a 94% vote. The final vote tally was 366 in favor of the amendments and 22 against.

Click here for a copy of the most recent and up-to-date Local 1 constitution.

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Our City. Our Schools. Our Voice.


Asean Johnson brings about a thousand supporters to tears. Watch his speech here:

On May 18, 19, and 20 of 2013, hundreds of teachers, students, custodians, lunchroom workers, and supporters marched for three days in protest of the largest school closing in US history. Chicago Public Schools (CPS) announced early in 2013 that they were planning to shutter 54 schools by the end of 2013. The schools are located on Chicago’s South and West sides, home to widespread poverty and criminal activity. The closing and consolidating of these schools will directly impact nearly 40,000 children in the Chicago area and will eliminate close to 3500 jobs.

On May 22, CPS announced that they will only close 49 of the 54 schools. Though we are happy for the schools that will be spared (Mahalia Jackson Elementary and Leif Ericson Elementary to name two), the fight against CPS closings is not over. In solidarity with Unite HERE, Action Now, and the Chicago Teachers Union, Local 1 will continue to protest the largest school closing in US history. It’s going to be a long summer, and we will not be silent.

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O’Hare Janitors Urge United Maintenance to Recognize Their Union

***News Advisory for Tuesday, May 14 at 10am***

In defiance of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s decision to lower wages at O’Hare, janitors call for union recognition with support from aldermen…

O’Hare janitors choose SEIU in hope of better future

Who:                O’Hare Janitors, Members of the Chicago City Council, Jorge Ramirez-President of the Chicago Federation of Labor, SEIU members and officers, non-union airport workers

What:               O’Hare workers call for union recognition

Where:            City Hall, 121 N LaSalle – 2nd Floor

When:              Tuesday, May 14 at 10am

More than 70 percent of O’Hare janitors are coming together for better jobs and have chosen SEIU to represent their interests. Last December, Mayor Emanuel awarded a $100 million O’Hare cleaning contract to a company with longstanding ties to organized crime that promised to lower wages by 30 percent. As a result, hundreds of union workers lost their jobs and now the nonunion, largely new workforce is fighting to restore family-sustaining wages and benefits at O’Hare. The janitors will call on Mayor Emanuel to urge his contractor, United Maintenance, to recognize SEIU as their legal representative and bargain in good faith.

Contact: Leslie Mendoza Kamstra 773-896-7815 or

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Union Plus

As an SEIU Local 1 member or retiree, you are entitled to member-only rates, discounts and special offers from Union Plus. The Union Plus program is brought to us by the AFL-CIO to provide consumer benefits to union members. To view a full list of programs and discounts, including mortgages, travel discounts, entertainment coupons, and prepaid debit cards, visit or call 1-800-452-9425.

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SEIU Security Officers Approve Historic Contract [Progress Illinois]

from Progress Illinois, 4/23/2013

SEIU* security officers have reached an agreement with the Building Owners and Manager’s Association (BOMA), voting unanimously for a three-year contract that went into effect Sunday.

The contract secures annual wage increases for the security officers and keeps comprehensive family health insurance intact for the workers and their families.

“When responsible companies do their part and invest in good jobs with family health care and a livable wage, our whole city benefits,” said Tom Balanoff, President of SEIU Local 1. “This three year agreement will boost our local economy in the communities that need it most. Now we will call on employers in the suburbs to follow BOMA’s lead and invest in good jobs that support hard working families.”

The workers have been rallying for a fair contract that included a wage increase since March, as Progress Illinois has previously covered. The new contract will bring in more than $4,000 in increased wages for the security officers.

“We worked hard, we persevered, we fought, and we won. Now we can feel a little better about our jobs, and, ultimately, our lives,” said Tonya Yarbrough, a security officer at the Chicago Stock Exchange. “This contract is not going to fix our neighborhoods overnight; but if we come together and fight for our neighborhoods the way that we fought for our jobs, we can make a safer Chicago.

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Downtown Security’s Historic New Contract

Tanya Robinson calls for a unanimous vote at the 4/20 contract ratification meeting.

Tanya Robinson calls for a unanimous vote at the 4/20 contract ratification meeting.

While Chicago’s security officers protect corporations that generate more than $500 billion a year, most of them go home to the most dangerous and economically depressed communities in the city. Starting in January, a dedicated security brigade took to the streets to rally support as they fought for fair wages. On April 20th, security officers unanimously approved a new union contract that preserves their ability to support their families. About 2,000 officers and their families will benefit from more than $4,000 in increased wages and access to family health care over the next three years. Together, the officers will bring $8.9 million into the local economy, pumping much needed resources into our city’s struggling neighborhoods. Winning the highest wage increase in SEIU Local 1 Security history, downtown security officers fought hard for good jobs and a safer Chicago… and they won.

“We worked hard, we persevered, we fought, and we won. Now we can feel a little better about our jobs, and, ultimately, our lives,” says Tonya Yarbrough, a security officer at the Chicago Stock Exchange. “This contract is not going to fix our neighborhoods overnight; but if we come together and fight for our neighborhoods the way that we fought for our jobs, we can make a safer Chicago.”

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