Chants of “Si Se Puede!” could be heard throughout downtown Chicago as thousands marched and rallied for comprehensive immigration reform and an end to deportations Saturday afternoon.
The massive march and demonstration, attended by some 5,000 people, kicked off at Teamster City, 1645 W. Jackson Blvd. At 1:30 p.m., marchers began to travel east on Jackson Boulevard and then north on Dearborn Street until they reached Daley Center plaza for a planned rally. Police blocked off traffic as the marchers made their way downtown. Demonstrators cheered, banged drums, waved American flags and held signs reading, “Keep families together!”
Labor leaders, community members and immigrant rights advocates demanded that House Republican leaders, including U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam (R, IL-6), bring immigration reform legislation up for a vote.
House Democrats introduced a comprehensive immigration reform bill that creates a pathway to citizenship for the nation’s more than 11 million undocumented immigrants less than two weeks ago, but Republican House leaders have been ignoring it. The bill mirrors the bipartisan immigration reform package the Senate passed in June.
“We believe we have the votes to get it passed [in the House] if a vote were called today, but Republican leadership is standing in the way of that, refusing to call a vote,” said Jenette Sturges, an Aurora resident and votunteer with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR). “We want them to take a stand. Become a leader, and let hard-working people earn citizenship.”
Saturday’s rally specifically singled out Roskam, Illinois’ top House Republican and the chamber’s chief deputy whip.
“We’re calling on him to take the lead on this, because he has the power to do it, and he has not responded to any of our calls for action,” Sturges said.
One activist carried a giant, full-sized cutout of the congressman, while others toted signs reading “Roskam, remember November” and “Roskam hates immigrants.” Others held up posters in the shape of mastodons reading, “Illinois GOP: Vote for comprehensive immigration reform or face extinction.”
Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) attended the Teamster City rally and noted that Roskam’s district is one-third Latino. Roskam will pay a price during the November election if an immigration reform bill is not called for a vote by then, Fioretti stressed.
Alds. Joe Moreno (1st) Ricardo Munoz (22nd) and Walter Burnett (27th) also attended the rally.
A number of other labor organizations including Chicago Jobs With Justice, Unite Here and the Chicago Teachers Union, to name a few, were also represented at the event.
“Labor is in the house brothers and sisters, because we have to make sure that once and for all we get real, common sense immigration reform,” said SEIU Local 1 President Tom Balanoff. “So that all people can move ahead, so that we can recognize the basic human rights that we as trade unionists believe that we must always fight for.”
Later at the Daley Plaza rally, Liz Marquez, 9, delivered some fiery words for members of Congress in front of the sea of people.
“Our families have witnessed injustice, discrimination and racism. Enough is enough,” she said. “I am tired of a broken immigration system that treats my parents like criminals. Our parents are not criminals. They are hard working people who have sacrificed everything.”
Marquez said her father is currently facing deportation, and she’s sick of being afraid that he could be taken away from her family at any moment.
“Living with fear is not the right way to live,” she said. “It is my right as a U.S. citizen to be able to live with my parents without being separated by a deportation.”
Every day, 1,100 people are deported. If deportation rates continue at their current pace, some 2 million people will have been deported by 2014 under the Obama administration.
Juan Lopez with the group P.A.S.O (West Suburban Action Project) said that’s unacceptable, and House Republican leaders need to quit sitting on immigration reform legislation that would provide immediate legal status and an eventual pathway to citizenship.
Sturges said it was moving to see such an impressive turnout Saturday.
“Whats really cool about it, it’s not a movement of any one sort of person,” she told Progress Illinois. “It’s immigrants and non-immigrants. It’s their families and their friends. It’s Latinos and Asians … It’s a really great atmosphere. It’s really empowering.”
LAKEVIEW — Some residents of a lakeside high-rise are protesting the loss of long-time door staffers as the building’s management money seeks to cut costs by switching to private security.
A petition circulating atHawthorne House, 3450 N. Lake Shore Drive, has 230 tenant signatures asking that J.L. Woode keep six employees instead of switching to private security company Guardian Security Services, said Ivan Moreno, spokesman for SEIU Local 1, the staff’s union.
Some residents of the 37-floor, 455-unit building have bemoaned the “mean-spirited” nature of laying off long-time employees, and saying they’ll no longer have trusted employees who can leave packages in their homes, they said.
“There’s no heart,” said Gloria Wendroff, who lives in the building with her daughter. “This doesn’t make me, as a resident, feel important either.”
At 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, the union, staff and some residents will be rallying outside the high-rise for the third time in three weeks in hopes of convincing J.L. Woode to change its mind, Moreno said.
Tenants and staff learned about the switch through the union and word of mouth in September, they said. The staff’s last day is Oct. 14.
The new workers will not be leaving packages in homes until further evaluation, according to an email to tenants.
Laying off long-time employees shows disrespect to the staff and to the tenants, several residents said. Current staff members have worked at the building for 10 years on average, Moreno said, and one doorman has worked there for 29 years.
“We are disturbed that the company, that manages our place of residence, is heartless enough to consider letting go a wonderful and loyal staff to save a few dollars,” resident Jonathan Groda wrote in an email to J.L. Woode.
A manager at J.L. Woode said the company has no comment. Guardian Security Services did not return a request for comment.
Employees were told they could reapply through Guardian, but they do not expect to be able to return, Moreno said.
If they are rehired, the wages and benefits may be lower, the union said. Door staffers currently earn $15.15 per hour with family health insurance, vacation time and sick days — whereas private security wages in Chicago range from minimum wage to $11 an hour and benefits may not be guaranteed, Moreno said.
Residents who protested the layoffs said they feared the company would do nothing despite their opposition. At a rally outside the building last week, the landscaping sprinklers went on, Moreno said, and J.L. Woode killed a deal to keep paying for health insurance for three months after employees spoke up.
“We’re continuing to show that residents are completely against” the layoffs, Moreno said. “This is something the community cares about.”
Labor leaders in Chicago held a press conference Thursday morning announcing plans to hold a massive march and rally to call for “an immediate end to deportations and immigration reform legislation which will protect workers’ rights and provide for legalization for all workers.”
Leaders with Chicago Federation of Labor, Illinois AFL-CIO, SEIU* Local 1, Local 881 UFCW, National Nurses United, Chicago Workers Collaborative and others plan to hold a ‘March for Dignity, Respect and Justice for Immigrants’ on Saturday, October 12 to demand that lawmakers pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill that creates a path to citizenship.
“This march through the streets of Chicago will demonstrate our ongoing commitment to passing real immigration reform that protects all working people,” said Jorge Ramirez, Chicago Federation of Labor. “Thousands of marchers will send the message directly to Congress that we will not waver in our support for dignity, respect and justice for the immigrant workers in our communities.”
The coalition is urging Chicagoans and those throughout the area to take part in the action, which will kick off at Teamster City at 1645 W. Jackson at 12 p.m. on October 12. The march is scheduled to begin 2 p.m. and will travel through Jackson St. to Federal Plaza at Jackson and Dearborn Sts., where the rally will take place at 3 p.m.
La marcha está programada a concluir en la Plaza Federal. Los organizadores buscan presionar al Congreso a que apruebe una iniciativa de reforma migratoria, una vez que el gobierno federal reinicie sus labores tras el cierre.
La Marcha por Dignidad, Respeto y Justicia es parte de acciones nacionales de organizaciones comunitarias y sindicatos en favor de una reforma al sistema de inmigración y para que el presidente Barack Obama imponga una moratoria a las deportaciones.
La marcha dará inicio en Teamster City, 1645 W. Jackson Blvd., a las 12 p.m. hacia la Plaza Federal donde se llevará a cabo una manifestación a las 3:00 pm.
Chicago labor and immigration rights organizations on Thursday announced a mass march 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.
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
VISUALS: Signs, Flags, and Union T-Shirts
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.
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.
At 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.
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.