Missing wages, grueling shifts, and bottles of urine

Several Amazon drivers who spoke with Business Insider described a physically demanding work environment in which, under strict time constraints, they felt pressured to drive at dangerously high speeds, blow stop signs, and even urinate in bottles on their trucks. Photo: Business Insider

Beth Gutelius, a senior research specialist in UIC’s Great Cities Institute, is quoted in a Business Insider article examining the work environment and demands experienced by Amazon delivery drivers. Gutelius, who has studied low-wage labor markets and global supply chains, says logistics industry workers are often negatively impacted when third-party courier companies compete to get become a subcontractor for larger corporations.

These trends are worse in an industry such as logistics, where cost is the only real competitive difference that sets apart one courier company that Amazon might choose to employ versus another, according to Beth Gutelius, a senior researcher at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

“You have everyone slightly under-bidding each other, so much so that it would be impossible for them to pay their workers even the minimum wage,” Gutelius said. “It creates a competitive market among subcontractors. Who ends up paying the price, then, is the workers.”

Full Story from Business Insider »

Report on our Events: From 1968 – 2018

L to R: Teresa Córdova, Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, José “Cha Cha” Jimenez, Michael Klonsky, Marilyn Katz, Don Rose, Laura Washington, Billy “Che” Brooks, and Mary Scott-Boria. Photo by Bob Black

We were so pleased to host The Whole World is Still Watching, on August 28, 2018 on the 50th Anniversary of the infamous 1968 Democratic National Convention held here in Chicago #1968DNC.  Sun Times columnist, Laura Washington and Great Cities Institute Director, Teresa Córdova, moderated a panel of activists who were members/leaders in the National Mobilization against the War in Vietnam, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), Illinois Black Panther Party, The Young Lords, and Casa (formed later). With this amazing array of perspectives, the audience of nearly two hundred people had an opportunity to hear first-hand accounts and retrospectives on the political movements of the day and their lasting impacts. Panelists spoke of their idealism and commitments and to the importance of addressing issues that remain today including issues of inequality, militarism, police brutality, and racial segregation. Please be on the look-out for us to post the full video of the event as well as a shorter video that includes footage from extended interviews of individual panelists.  We are excited to share this with you and will be sure to let you know when we post them.  In the meantime, check out some of the photos from Olga Lopez and Bob Black, who captured many of the 1968 images while he was a photographer for the Chicago Sun Times.

Photo by Olga Lopez

Photo by Bob Black

Photo by Olga Lopez

View more photos →

Be on the lookout for our event on the 50th Anniversary of the Tlatelolco Massacre in La Plaza de Tres Culturas in the Tlatelolco area of Mexico City on October 2, 1968 where hundreds of student activists were gunned down by the military.

This past week, with the Urban Planning and Policy Program, we hosted Professors Agnes Kover-Van Til and Aniko Gregor from ELTE University Budapest, Hungary who shared their research on post truth politics and neoliberalism and patriarchy. You can find the abstracts of their research here.

We would also like to invite you to an upcoming event on September 28 from 9:00 a.m. – noon at Student Center East (same location) 750 S. Halsted entitled, Deportation and Detention: Addressing the Psychosocial Impact on Migrant Youth and Families. Please click on the link to see the amazing line-up of advocates and researchers for this important forum, which we are co-sponsoring with UIC’s Center for Global Health along with the Global Migration Working Group of the Institute for Humanities.

On November 16th from 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. in the Cardinal Room of the Student Center East, we are co-sponsoring an event titled Natives in Chicago with UIC’s Native American Support Program to hear first voice narratives on growing up, working, and living in Chicago.  This program will explore how national, local, and tribal policies impact urban Native people and the ways in which institutions can positively engage and contribute to urban Native communities.  These lands, currently named Chicago, have always been home to Indigenous peoples so we are very excited about this event and hope that you can join us.

We will have a few other activities this fall which you will be able to find on our event page.

Visiting Scholar Lectures – The Policies of “Post-Truth” Politics & The Gender Regime of Neoliberal Neo-Patriarchy

This visiting scholars’ lecture is co-sponsored by the Department of Urban Planning & Policy.

The Policies of “Post-Truth” Politics

“Post-truth” is an adjective defined by the  Oxford Dictionary as ‘denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’. I decided to use this expression as the title of my lecture since it is my impression that this reflects more or less (rather more than less) satisfactorily our current political environment and experiences. The mind boggles when one tries to decode the triumph of political actions such as building walls and fences at borders. Or cutting taxes to make the rich richer and cutting public services to make the poor poorer. Or well rewarded governmental acts like undermining judicial independence. Or even banning university courses and programs. Or building successful election campaigns on images of evil immigrants in a country where there are nearly no immigrants at all. The concept of post-truth politics permits us to unravel the growing irrationality which increasingly underlies prevailing political regimes on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

Agnes Kover-Van Til is a lawyer and sociologist, associate professor and director of Gender Studies MA Program at ELTE University School of Social Science, Budapest, Hungary where she teaches social law, labor market policy and gender discourse analysis.  She has a distinguished career as a nonprofit organization executive and human rights lawyer in Hungary.  She is the author or editor of several books and numerous articles on such topics as gender discourses, equal treatment and opportunities and minority rights, prisoner’s rights, and the theory and practice of social welfare.  She has served as program associate director of the European Union’s Intensive (international) Program, and before that was Executive Director of the ELTE Legal Clinic program.

The Gender Regime of Neoliberal Neo-Patriarchy

In their recent article about the gendered aspects of transitions of Hungary and Poland to illiberal democracies, Pető and Grzebalska (2018) convincingly argues that one of the reasons behind the emergence of illiberalism is the ineffectiveness of the narrow emancipatory and equality politics. For example, a mainstream liberator idea is that labor market participation of women is a direct path to their emancipation. However, by not taking into consideration the class differences among women and the difference of the quality of the available jobs, it could easily lead to the refusal of the idea of equality politics among the growing number of those being in precarious conditions.

By applying the concept of “neoliberal neo-patriarchy” (Campbell 2014) we are going to present that the illiberal state can play an active role in both promoting neoliberal policies and patriarchal relations. Strengthening the patriarchal notion of families with gendered division of labor between men and women might be easier supported if the working conditions of women is worse (and getting worse), hence the sphere of family is desired as a shelter from exploitative labor market. Similarly, gendered consequences of reduction of welfare services and budget in the name of neoliberal austerity policies will push the unprovided carework back to the sphere of families where mostly women are going to provide them.

Anikó Gregor is an assistant professor at University ELTE, Faculty of Social Sciences, where she delivers quantitative and qualitative research methodology courses. In research, she focuses on the sociology of  gender. She is the author or co-author of a number of studies examining relations of neoliberalism, feminism and the system of gender inequalities. Earlier she was in charge of a research group at ELTE, which examined the presence of sexism and sexual violence myths as well as the experience of sexual or other sexual-based forms of violence among the students of the university.

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The Whole World is Still Watching

Social Protest 50 Years after the 1968 Democratic National Convention

On the night of August 28, 1968, thousands of young, primarily white, activists headed for the Democratic National Convention in downtown Chicago, intent on protesting the Vietnam War. Mayor Richard J. Daley dispatched an army of police officers and called upon the National Guard and U.S. Secret Service. Activists appealing for peace were greeted by nightsticks and tear gas, as were reporters and Eugene McCarthy convention delegates, as they tried to exercise their First Amendment rights. The debacle was televised and triggered outrage around the nation. The protestors chanted: “The Whole World is Watching.”

Fifty years later, the world is still watching. In the age of Black Lives Matter, Me-Too, Time’s Up and Families Belong Together, that iconic moment offers lessons and raises questions about war and peace; state-sanctioned violence; and police brutality. Who has the right to protest? Who decides? What is the role of social protest in the 21st Century? How have militarization, surveillance and technology changed protest?

On August 28, 2018, exactly 50 years later, UIC’s Great Cities Institute will host a provocative and urgent program exploring why “The Whole World is Still Watching.” Participants include organizers of the 1968 protests who will bring personal accounts, including reflections on the period leading up to that day. These and other panelists will discuss the personal and historical significance of these events. Key to the discussions are questions about the role of social protest in a civil society.

If the above RSVP form is not working, please email gcities@uic.edu to RSVP.

Don Rose is a political consultant heading Don Rose Communications and The Urban Political Group, and writes a weekly online column for the Chicago Daily Observer (CDOBS.com). The column won the Chicago Journalists Association award for commentary four times in the past six years. Based in Chicago, his consulting firms have operated in 13 states. Clientele has included Supreme Court justices, U.S. senators, governors, mayors and state and municipal legislators. Long active in the peace and civil rights movements he served as Dr. Martin Luther King’s Chicago press secretary during the civil rights leader’s campaign here and in 1968 was an organizer and press spokesman for the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, which was the principal organizing group for the convention demonstrations.

Mike Klonsky is a retired educator, author of several books on education reform and the co-founder and former director of the Small Schools Workshop. A national anti-war and civil rights activist in the ‘60s, he was the national secretary of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) in 1968. SDS was the largest militant student group in the country at that time and played an active role in organizing the protests at the Democratic Convention in Chicago. He was targeted for attack by the Justice Department under the government’s Operation COINTELPRO and arrested in a raid on the SDS office in 1969. He has stayed active in labor, civil rights, anti-war organizing since then. He’s now the co-host of Hitting Left radio show on WLPN FM in Chicago and blogs at Schooling in the Ownership and Mike Klonsky’s SmallTalk Blog. Mike received his Ph.D. in education from the University of Illinois at Chicago

Marilyn Katz is a writer, political and public policy strategist and activist who combined those skills in 1983, at the conclusion of Harold Washington’s successful run for mayor to create MK Communications, the firm of which she is president.  Moved by actions of the civil rights activists in the south,  as an undergraduate at Northwestern, she first joined SDS *Students for a Democratic Society) and very quickly went to uptown Chicago to organize for JOIN Community Union – an off-campus project of SDS.  BY 1968 she was deeply embroiled in organizing high school students across the city, to oppose the war and racism and expand student and women’s rights.  IT was this activity that led her to be a key organizer for the April 68 Chicago demonstrations against the war and to be  a leader and deputy head of security for the demonstrators during the events of August 1968,  Ms. Katz has been continuously active politically since that time, organizing the 2002 rally in Chicago at which Obama made his fateful anti-war speech and most recently being a founder of Chicago Women Take Action – a multi-racial, multi-generational organization striving for equity and equality for all women and their families.

José “Cha-Cha” Jiménez was the founder of the Young Lords as a national human rights organization. It was founded in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago on September 23, 1968. Cha-Cha was born in Caguas, Puerto Rico on August 8, 1948. He helped the Young Lords transform from a street gang into the Young Lords Organization and a component of the original Rainbow Coalition. YLO emerged onto the national political scene after they staged a series of grassroots actions on behalf of the poor people of Lincoln Park. They disrupted Lincoln Park Conservation Association meetings in Lincoln Park, confronted the real-estate brokers and landlords, created the Peoples Church and the Peoples Park, and forced the McCormick Theological Seminary to provide resources for the community. The Young Lords held the first large demonstrations in Chicago for Puerto Rican self-determination. Cha-Cha ran for alderman of the 46th Ward and garnered 39% of the vote, becoming the first Hispanic to run and oppose the Cook County Democratic political machine of Richard J. Daley.

Billy “Che” Brooks was Deputy Minister of Education of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense (BPP) and the former director of YouthLAB@1521 through the Better Boys Foundation, retiring in 2015. In 1968, Che worked closely with BPP Chairman Fred Hampton who was the main spokesman of the Black Panther Party in Illinois. As one of the primary leaders of the BPP, Mr. Brooks was under constant, daily harassment by the Chicago Red Squad and Gang Intelligence Unit. He also worked closely with the Young Lords through the Rainbow Coalition. Currently, Brooks is facilitating a living history project at the Oak Park Library and is working with former BPP Party members to commemorate the fifty year inception of the founding of the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party.

Mary Scott-Boria is a lifelong resident of Chicago, arriving to Chicago at 15 where she was immediately immersed in the Chicago Freedom Movement as a young activist. Immediately upon graduating from high school she joined the Black Panther Party where her activities led her to working with the Puerto Rican Socialist Party. Mary has over 50 years of experience and knowledge of Chicago’s communities, having worked as a professional social worker and human services administrator in several not for profit organizations. Her work and interests have been in women and youth issues and in community organizing and politics. She served as the first executive director of the Chicago Sexual Assault Services Network, director of Youth Services Project (YSP), a executive committee member of the Cook County Democratic Women, and most recently as director of the Urban Studies Program of the Associated Colleges of the Midwest. Mary holds a master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her leadership in the Anti-Racism Institute of Clergy and Laity Concerned led her to seminary where she completed her Master of Divinity degree from the McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. She served on the training team of the Christian Peacemakers Teams and was most recently active with the Mikva Challenge Foundation and CLAIM (Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers).

Jesus “Chuy” Garcia is the outgoing District 7 representative on the Cook County Board of Commissioners in Illinois. He has long been involved in the politics of Chicago, serving as Alderman of the 22nd Ward on the Chicago City Council from 1986 to 1992 and District 1 representative in the Illinois State Senate from 1993 to 1999. Commissioner Garcia is a 2018 Democratic candidate seeking election to the U.S. House to represent the 4th Congressional District of Illinois. Garcia earned a B.S. in political science and a Master’s Degree in urban planning and policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago. His experience includes work as the founding executive director of the community development organization Enlace Chicago and service as the founding chair of the board for Latino Policy forum and as a member of the boards of Woods Fund Chicago and The Center on Leadership Innovation.

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Chicago’s history is told through stories of protest

Chicago police came at crowds with nightsticks and tear gas as they tried to break up protests during the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in August 1968. | Paul Sequeira / Chicago Daily News

Chicago Sun-Times columnist Laura Washington highlights the UIC Great Cities Institute’s Aug. 28 event “The World is Still Watching” in her latest column, which reflects on the 1968 Democratic Convention protests and the need for protest today. Washington will serve as co-moderator for tomorrow’s event at UIC.

Protest still matters.

Fifty years ago, on the night of Aug. 28, 1968, thousands of young activists headed for downtown Chicago during the Democratic National Convention to protest the Vietnam War.

Richard J. Daley, the convention host and America’s most powerful mayor, wasn’t having any disruption to his plans to crown Hubert Humphrey as his party’s presidential nominee.

Daley dispatched battalions of police officers, the National Guard and the U.S. Secret Service. Appeals for peace were greeted by nightsticks and tear gas. Protestors were brutally beaten as they tried to exercise their First Amendment rights.

The police riot was televised, triggering outrage around the nation. Chicago political maven Don Rose coined the famous phrase, “The whole world is watching.”

Full Column from Chicago Sun-Times »

New GCI Report: Policy Recommendations for Amendments to the State of Illinois Worker Cooperative Statute

Alex Linares, author of the report, will present his research at the Chicago Cooperative Alliance’s Chicago’s 1st Cooperative Economy Summit being held August 25.

We are pleased to release another report from the Great Cities Institute that we hope will be of value to those interested in promoting or establishing business cooperatives.  We have long been proponents of worker cooperatives and small business incubators as a potential for addressing employment needs through a cooperative structure.  One of the best models of worker cooperatives comes from the Basque region in Spain. The Mondragon Project goes back to the early 1940s. Ganados del Valle in New Mexico (now Tierra Wools) also has a long history as a successful cooperative based in the wool industry. Here in Chicago, the New Era Windows Cooperative is another example of successful worker ownership. Throughout the world and locally, interest in worker cooperatives is growing – both in urban and rural settings.  Yet establishing the structure is not always easy and in some instances state law needs to be changed to either remove obstacles to cooperative formation or to create the necessary enabling legislation.

In this newest report from the Great Cities Institute, we share the results of extensive research on the relevant Illinois state statutes, including recent effort to improve state law, and conclude with policy recommendations for amendments to the State of Illinois Worker Cooperative Statute.

From the report summary:

Worker cooperatives are a business model where people employed in the business also receive dividends from the surplus earnings of the business, and have voting power within the business. It is a potential model for increasing wages, and instituting democratic values in the workplace. Illinois currently has two statutes on worker cooperatives, the Agricultural Co-operative Act (805 ILCS 315/1) and the Co-operative Act (805 ILCS 310/1).

This report gives an overview of what worker cooperatives are, reviews the Illinois Co-operative Act 805 ILCS 310/1, and makes recommendations for amending the Co-operative Act. Since this report focuses on worker cooperatives, it will not address the Agricultural Co-operative Act (805 ILCS 315/1) which organizes agricultural consumer cooperatives.

The Co-operative Act was amended in 2016 which modified the statute’s language to allow all types of businesses to be organized as worker cooperatives in Illinois. This was a milestone in allowing worker cooperatives to grow, especially within the service sector. Regardless, two elements from many other statutes organizing worker cooperatives are missing from the Illinois Co-operative Act.

  • Inclusion of language that describes the distribution of earnings to cooperative members through patronage dividends or labor patronage
  • Inclusion of more worker cooperative values in the statute language, specifically the voting system of one-member, one-vote.

Alex Linares, author of the report, will present his research at the Chicago Cooperative Alliance’s Chicago’s 1st Cooperative Economy Summit being held tomorrow, August 25, from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. at 237 S. Desplaines St.  At the same gathering, folks connected to the Illinois Worker Cooperative Alliance and the John Marshall Law School-Chicago Business Enterprise Law Clinic will also present their recent report, Cooperation Chicago: Building Chicago’s Worker Cooperative Ecosystem. Groups affiliated with the Alliance include:  Chicago Community and Worker’s Rights (CCWR), Centro de Trabajadores Unidso:  United Workers’Center (CTU), The Domestic Worker and Day Laborer Center of Chicago (DWDL), The Co-op Ed Center (CEC), and New Hope Rising.

Interest in the worker cooperative model is growing and we are pleased that, through this report, we can contribute to the many efforts that exist towards promoting worker cooperatives. We hope this report sheds light on the recent amendments (2016) that made the statute more supportive of service based cooperatives, while also recommending amendments in the statute to better integrate more social values into the statute.

On September 14-16, the Worker Cooperative National Conference will be held in Los Angeles, California.

Policy Recommendations for Amendments to the State of Illinois Worker Cooperative Statute

Authors
Alex Linares

Abstract
Worker cooperatives are a business model where people employed in the business also receive dividends from the surplus earnings of the business, and have voting power within the business. It is a potential model for increasing wages, and instituting democratic values in the workplace. Illinois currently has two statutes on worker cooperatives, the Agricultural Co-operative Act (805 ILCS 315/1) and the Co-operative Act (805 ILCS 310/1).

This report gives an overview of what worker cooperatives are, reviews the Illinois Co-operative Act 805 ILCS 310/1, and makes recommendations for amending the Co-operative Act. Since this report focuses on worker cooperatives, it will not address the Agricultural Co-operative Act (805 ILCS 315/1) which organizes agricultural consumer cooperatives.

The Co-operative Act was amended in 2016 which modified the statute’s language to allow all types of businesses to be organized as worker cooperatives in Illinois. This was a milestone in allowing worker cooperatives to grow, especially within the service sector. Regardless, two elements from many other statutes organizing worker cooperatives are missing from the Illinois Co-operative Act.

  • Inclusion of language that describes the distribution of earnings to cooperative members through patronage dividends or labor patronage
  • Inclusion of more worker cooperative values in the statute language, specifically the voting system of one member, one-vote.

Full Text (PDF) »