Outten & Golden: Empowering Employees in the Workplace

Posts Tagged ‘strikes’

In Streets of Chicago, Fast Food Workers Celebrate Small Victories

Friday, August 2nd, 2013

kari-lydersenChicago workers continued the roving fast food and retail strike Thursday, joining strikers and picketers around the nation calling for increased wages and better working conditions for the thousands of low-wage workers who staff some of the nation’s largest companies but are not paid even enough to scrape by.

A crowd of workers and supporters sporting employee uniforms or red “Fight for 15” t-shirts—referring to the call for a $15 hourly wage—snaked through downtown streets all day, stopping to rally outside businesses, ranging from fast food outlets such as McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Chik-Fil-A to more expensive stores like Nike, Macy’s and Victoria’s Secret. Pharmacies, delis, health food stores and beauty salons were also on the route.

The mood was celebratory. Many workers said they had gotten raises, better schedules, more hours and better working conditions since the April 24 strike by the Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago (WOCC) union. While the union doesn’t have any contracts with employers or even official collective bargaining power, it has already leveraged the power of public pressure to gain concessions from major businesses. It is supported by a wide range of labor unions and community groups, as Jeff Schuhrke reported yesterday for Working In These Times.

Krystal Maxie-Collins, 29, says that, about a week after the April protest, she was promoted from part-time to full-time and got a raise from $8.25 to $8.50 an hour at her job at Macy’s. A mother of four, she said it is nearly impossible to make ends meet on retail wages that hover at or just above the state minimum wage of $8.25.

“You have rent, gas, lights, just the cost of living in Chicago,” she said. “Even being able to go to lunch and participate in society here in Chicago, you need more than $8.50 an hour. You should be able to afford to shop where you work, but I can’t do that unless there is a 60 percent off sale. It’s hard to even buy personal necessities. We’re not talking about wanting to get rich. We just want to get by and take care of ourselves.”

Outside one of downtown Chicago’s numerous McDonald’s franchises, one worker after another called in Spanish and English for higher wages.

Robert Wilson, 25, described working for a McDonald’s at Water Tower Place for seven years and getting only a single, 10-cent-per-hour raise. He finally got a 25-cent-per-hour raise after Black Friday last year, thanks to the retail-fast food workers movement, he tells Working In These Times.

Wilson described to the crowd how he has worked 15-hour days at two different stores when McDonald’s managers were in a pinch.

“It’s a shame to know I’ll give that kind of dedication to work, and not even receive paid sick days or a steady schedule, and have to negotiate for days off when I have an emergency,” he said. “We work too hard for this company to back down…we’ll keep fighting until we get what we deserve.”

The crowd went into the restaurant to try to deliver a petition, but police officers ordered them out.

“They’re just trying to raise the minimum wage,” said Monica A., 20, a passerby who saw the workers earlier in the day outside a Walgreens and, sympathizing with their message, decided to continue walking with them.

“$8.25, you can’t do anything on that, especially after they take taxes out and everything,” said Monica, who declined to give her last name.

McDonald’s unintentionally gave the fast food workers movement a boost last month when it published a sample budget for workers that was apparently meant to help them manage their money but instead highlighted for the country how nearly impossible it is to survive on their wages. The budget included a “second job” and even so did not cover realistic living expenses. Health insurance was penciled in at $20 a month, heat (in an earlier version) as “$0,” and gas and child care were not included at all.

It’s not only employees serving customers at private companies who make such low wages. Grace Hill works in the kitchen at Homewood-Flossmoor high school in the south suburbs, earning $9.87 an hour. Even as she makes healthy food for the students, she told Working In These Times, she can’t afford to buy healthy food for herself—a particular problem since she is diabetic.

“Half the time I can’t pay all my bills,” she said. “The school does have the money, they just aren’t giving it to us.”

Union employees of the Chicago Public Schools, including teachers, janitors and food service workers, were on hand to support the Fight for 15.

“Like all movements, it starts small, and then it will grow,” said Eric Ortega, 30, who works as a prep cook on Navy Pier.

Campaign organizer Deivid Rojas said it’s clear the movement has already made an impact and will continue to do so.

“We’ve had workers having victories in all kinds of ways,” he told In These Times. “They’re getting raises of $1 or $2 an hour, or moving from part time to full time. People have more predictable scheduling and report being more respected at work, by their managers and their co-workers.”

This article originally appeared on Working In These Times on August 1, 2012.  Reprinted with permission.  

About the Author: Kari Lydersen, an In These Times contributing editor, is a Chicago-based journalist whose works has appeared in The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Chicago Reader and The Progressive, among other publications.

Campaign Alleges Retaliation Against Strikers in Federal Building

Friday, May 31st, 2013

eidelson_100Organizers tell The Nation that four food court outlets in a federal building initially refused to let employees return to work following a Tuesday strike, but relented following protests by supporters.

The four establishments—Subway, Bassett’s Original Turkey, Quick Pita and Kabuki Sushi—are located in the Ronald Reagan federal building, one of several Washington, DC, workplaces where employees with taxpayer-supported jobs went on strike as part of the Good Jobs Nation campaign, whose backers include the Service Employees International Union. As The Nation reported Tuesday, the strikers are demanding that President Obama take executive action to improve labor standards for workers who are employed by private companies to do jobs backed by public spending. According to organizers, the one-day strike involved hundreds of workers, and forced about half of the Reagan Building’s food court outlets to shut down at some point during the day. (The Reagan Building is owned by the federal government; many of its food outlets are franchisees of restaurant or fast food chains.)

Bassett’s employee Suyapa Moreno told The Nation in Spanish that three of her outlet’s four staff went on strike Tuesday, and that when they showed up to start their shift on Wednesday, “The owner told my co-worker she was fired. So I said, ‘If you’re going to fire her, I’m not coming back to work.’” She said her manager told them that “she didn’t want to see us again.” Moreno said she believes her co-worker was targeted because management saw her as the ringleader who convinced Moreno and a third Bassett’s worker to strike.

Moreno said the workers then waited at the food court until other workers, organizers and community supporters gathered to protest the terminations. According to the Good Jobs Nation campaign, about a hundred total supporters converged in the food court to protest ten total terminations by four outlets. Once there was a big enough group, said Moreno, “We went back to talk to the owner, and she accepted us back.” The Good Jobs Nation campaign told The Nation that managers or owners from Subway, Quick Pita and Kabuki Sushi also agreed to reverse the terminations once confronted by crowds of supporters.

The federal Office of Management and Budget did not respond to a request for comment Thursday afternoon regarding the allegations, or to The Nation’s prior inquiries this week regarding the Good Jobs Nation campaign. An employee who answered the phone at the Reagan Building Bassett’s Original Turkey location early Thursday evening said that no manager was on the property to comment. A call to the building’s Kabuki Sushi location went unanswered. The person who answered the phone at the building’s Subway location said he was too busy to comment; the Subway corporation did not immediately respond to an inquiry.

Reached on the Reagan Building Quick Pita location’s phone line, a person who identified himself as a manager there said that no strikers had been denied the chance to return to work, and charged that the campaign was making workers “victims for a bigger political agenda.” He declined to give his name, and said that he was not authorized to speak for the Quick Pita company or the franchisee’s owner.

The attempted terminations alleged by Good Jobs Nation could be violations of federal labor law. As I’ve noted previously, the law generally prohibits “firing” workers for striking, but often allows “permanently replacing” strikers by filling their positions during the strike and refusing to reinstate them. But strikes that the government finds to be motivated in part by prior labor law violations, as Good Jobs Nation says Tuesday’s was, receive greater legal protection; and striking for only one day may also provide a shield against “permanent replacement.”

However, labor advocates and activists have long charged that the National Labor Relations Board’s slow process and weak penalties do little to discourage companies from firing activists. In order to deter retaliation, organizers of recent fast food strikes have arranged for delegations of supporters, sometimes including local politicians and clergy, to accompany the strikers back to work the next day. As I reported for Salon in November, activists say that an indoor occupation and outdoor picket of a Wendy’s store led management to reverse the termination of one of the participants in New York’s first fast food strike. Organizers say the same approach worked yesterday in Washington.

“Before, when workers were treated badly or fired unjustly, nothing would happen,” said Moreno. “And so the bosses felt like they could keep doing it.” Following the strike and yesterday’s showdown, she said, “Now they treat us with a little more respect, because they’re afraid that if they keep doing what they’re doing, more of this will happen.”

This article was originally printed on The Nation on May 23, 2013.  Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Josh Eidelson is a Nation contributor and was a union organizer for five years. He covers labor for as a contributing writer at Salon and In These Times.

Hundreds of Chicago fast food and retail workers stage one-day strike, shutting some stores

Friday, April 26th, 2013

Laura ClawsonHundreds of Chicago fast food and retail workers walked out for a one-day strike Wednesday, following similar one-day strikes among New York City fast food workers earlier in April and inNovember. As in New York, the Chicago workers are calling for a wage of $15 an hour rather than the near-minimum wages most of them make, and the right to join together in unions. The Illinois minimum wage is $8.25, a dollar higher than the federal minimum wage that applies in New York, but the stories the workers tell are similar. At an organizing meeting, Micah Uetricht reports:

An African-American man approaching what’s typically thought of as retirement age told of decades working in fast food and hovering near minimum wage, while a young Urban Outfitters worker said a raise would “make the difference between living and surviving.”When explaining what a raise to $15 per hour would mean to her, Trish Kahle, a Whole Foods worker, stated simply, “I could have heat all winter.”

Dunkin Donuts worker Esly Hernandez, who is paid $8.25 an hour, told Ned Resnikoff that he’s striking for his four-year-old son, both to set an example for him and to be able to afford medically recommended nutrition for the anemic child.

Wednesday’s action in Chicago should be viewed not just in the context of the New York City fast food strikes, but of the wave of low-wage worker organizing over the past year more generally, as Josh Eidelson explains:

The strike wave’s spread to Chicago offers a hopeful sign for the New York City fast food campaign. While individual fast food stores are managed by franchisees, national CEOs are the real decision-makers in both fast food and retail. Given the financial cost and, more important, the risk of setting a precedent and emboldening a wider workforce, it’s hard to imagine executives for McDonald’s or Macy’s making any significant concessions to workers in any city unless faced with a bona fide national uprising. For that to happen, the strikes would have to go viral, big-time.The strikes aren’t spreading by accident. November New York fast food strikers told Salon that they drew inspiration from workers who walked out of Wal-Mart stores, who in turn cited the example of their Wal-Mart warehouse counterparts. Interviewed while on strike April 4, New York fast food workers said that November’s smaller walkout had made that day’s work stoppage possible. “I was waiting” during the first strike, said Brooklyn Burger King worker Christelle Lumen. “I wanted to know, would they be OK with it? Would they fire the people that went on strike?”

According to the Fight for 15 campaign, a Subway, a Sally’s Beauty Supply, and a Land’s End were shut down by the strike and a march of and in support of the strikers stretched for two city blocks.

This article was originally posted on the Daily Kos on April 24, 2013. Reprinted with Permission.

About the Author: Laura Clawson is an editor at the Daily Kos.

American Crystal Sugar Workers Ratify Contract

Monday, April 15th, 2013

Image: Mike HallLocked-out workers at American Crystal Sugar plants in Minnesota, North Dakota and Iowa will soon be returning to work after they ratified a contract late last week.

The company locked out 1,300 workers, members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM), in August 2011. John Riskey, BCTGM Local 167G, said:

This means Crystal Sugar’s skilled, experienced workers will be transitioning back to the factories to start repairing the damage that’s been done over the past 20 plus months. BCTGM members thank all who have supported our stand for justice and dignity and who have helped our families survive these hard times.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports the mills have continued operating with temporary, replacement workers, but the company’s operating costs have risen since the lockout began. Riskey told the paper:

The lockout was dragging the company down…somebody needed to step up to the plate and put families and communities first and especially our children….It’s time to move on.

In other bargaining news, members of the San Francisco Symphony ratified a new 26-month contract. The musicians, members of American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada (AFM) Local 6, were forced out on strike in March for 18 days before returning to work when a tentative agreement was reached.

This article was originally posted on the AFL-CIO on April 15, 2013. Reprinted with Permission.

About the Author: Mike Hall is a former West Virginia newspaper reporter, staff writer for the United Mine Workers Journal and managing editor of the Seafarers Log. He came to the AFL- CIO in 1989 and have written for several federation publications, focusing on legislation and politics, especially grassroots mobilization and workplace safety.

New York City Office Cleaner Strike Averted by Tentative Deal

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

Laura ClawsonA potential strike by New York City office cleaners was averted Friday night when SEIU Local 32BJ and the Realty Advisory Board came to a tentative agreement. The agreement, which must be ratified by workers, includes regular wage increases and $1,100 in bonuses and keeps employer-paid health coverage. Those victories for the current office cleaners weren’t all, though: the agreement does not include a two-tier wage system under which new hires would have been permanently paid just 70 percent of what current workers earn. Instead (PDF), new hires will begin at 75 percent and rise to the full pay rate in steps over a period of 42 months. Workers will also be able to continue contributing to the union’s political fund through automatic payroll deductions, another thing the building owners had sought to eliminate.

“The new contract is not just an important victory for office cleaners and their families, but for our economy and our city,” said Hector Figueroa, Secretary-Treasurer of 32BJ. “In these tough times the workers who keep New York City’s corporate offices and landmark buildings clean and well maintained have stood up for the good middle class jobs our economy and our city needs.” […]
“I am happy with this agreement,” said Ivan Almendarez who is a cleaner at New York University. “Keeping my healthcare and getting wage increases will go a long way toward helping me raise my kids and take care of my ailing wife.”

There are so many levels of goodness to this victory. The owners of New York City’s biggest buildings didn’t get away with trying to mobilize public opinion against office cleaners for having the audacity to make $47,000 a year. They didn’t get away with making it more difficult for those workers to contribute to their union’s political mobilization. And those 22,000 workers will continue to have the health coverage they need and to get raises so they can continue to make ends meet.

This blog originally appeared in Daily Kos Labor on January 2, 2012. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Laura Clawson is labor editor at Daily Kos. She has a PhD in sociology from Princeton University and has taught at Dartmouth College. From 2008 to 2011, she was senior writer at Working America, the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO.

Hershey Strikers Say Solidarity is the Best Cultural Exchange

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

mike elkSinging the Italian solidarity song “Bella Chao” in a variety of different languages, approximately 30 cultural exchange guest workers rallied last Friday at SEIU’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. for the end of exploitation of guest workers in the United States.

“These students came to this country to get a cultural exchange, Hershey didn’t give it to them so now we are giving them a true cultural exchange in solidarity,” said SEIU President Mary Kay Henry, whose union helped organize solidarity with guest workers when they decided to go out on strike to protest unfair working conditions.

Two weeks ago, 300 students walked out of a Hershey warehouse run by subcontractor Exel. The guest workers were students who signed up to work in the United States on a four month cultural exchange visa. Students pay fees and travel ranging from $3,000-$6,000 to work on a temporary contract and then travel freely in the United States.

The guest workers were supposed to be paid $7.85-$8.35 an hour. The workers, however, were forced to live in company housing and were charged $395 a month for rent – nearly twice the rate of rent for Americans living in similar housing in rural central Pennsylvania, according to the National Guestworker Alliance spokesman Stephen Boykewic. After deducting rent and other fees from their paychecks, guest workers took home between $40-$140 a week. The jobs they were originally filling were union jobs paying $18 an hour before Hershey subcontracted the warehouse jobs out to Exel, who hired the student guest workers.

Guest workers had initially staged a three day strike, with about 300 of the 400 guest workers in the warehouse participating. The guest workers are demanding a return of the $3,000-$6,000 each student paid for the cultural exchange program to work at Hershey, that Hershey end its exploitation of J-1 student cultural exchange workers, and that the 400 jobs the guest workers filled instead be given to local workers paid a living wage. According to the National Guest Worker Alliance, Hershey has yet to make a direct response to the students demand. Instead, Hershey opted to merely give guest workers a week’s paid vacation in order to comfort those who were upset by the exploitation.

After three days of most of the workers being out on strike, the majority have returned to work. 30 guest workers have refused to return to work and touring the country to speak at union halls, churches and college campuses about the growing problem of guest worker exploitation. On Monday, students delivered a petition to Hershey’s trust board chairman LeRoy Zimmerman signed by 63,000 people calling on Hershey to meet the guest workers’ demands for an end to the exploitation of the guest workers program and to provide good jobs for local workers.

Now, 30 students are embarking on a tour of the nation, organized by the National Guest Worker Alliance, that will help draw attention to a growing problem of the exploitation of guest workers in the United States. Increasingly, companies in the United States are using guest workers for jobs that could easily be filled by American workers at a time of record unemployment. The National Guestworker Alliance was formed as a project of the New Orleans Worker Center for Racial Justice after thousands of guest workers were brought to the Gulf Coast for clean-up operations.

“It was outrageous. We had guest workers working at hotels when there was record unemployment and at the same time we had guest workers being held in conditions of essentially forced labor,” said Saket Soni, executive director of the National Guestworker Alliance. “So we saw how these two problems were connected and we started the National Guestworker Alliance as result of the organizing we were doing of guest workers in the Gulf Coast.”

The use of guest workers is increasingly becoming a big problem in the United States, as these workers can easily be exploited to work for less than minimum wage through a variety of tricks and traps (made possible by poor oversight of guest worker programs) as Hershey did to its guest workers. Currently, according to Economic Policy Institute immigration analyst Daniel Costa, approximately one and half million people come to the United States every year to work under a variety of guest worker programs. Increasingly companies are turning to J-1 cultural exchange work programs to use workers, since it is not considered a guest worker program but a cultural exchange program and is regulated by the State Department. The State Department only has 13 compliance officers to monitor a program in which 353,603 guest workers participate.

Hershey may have picked the wrong visa category of students to exploit in the J-1 visa cultural exchange guest worker program. While many of the student guest workers do indeed come from third world countries, they are typically college students from middle and upper class backgrounds. They of course were shocked to find themselves working in sweatshop warehouse conditions for little pay. Now, the Hershey guest workers are starting to do something about it. In the J-1 visa program alone, 30 of the Hershey guest workers have vowed to tour the country, spreading awareness of these abuses.

“I never imagined when I came to the United States that I would go to some labor meeting and get involved in the labor movement, but Hershey forced us to become part of the labor movement,” said Godwin Efobi, from Nigeria, who is studying medicine in Odessa, Ukraine. “The solidarity and support from Americans has truly been incredible. In a roundabout way this is the best cultural exchange we could have had.”

Appeared originally in Working In These Times on August 30, 2011. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Mike Elk is an In These Times contributing editor, has worked for the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers union, the Campaign for America’s Future and the Obama-Biden campaign. Based in Washington D.C., he has appeared as a commentator on CNN, Fox News, NPR, Democracy Now! and MSNBC. His work has also appeared at Alternet and in The Nation, The Atlantic and The American Prospect.

45,000 Verizon Workers on Strike

Monday, August 8th, 2011

Credit: Joe Kekeris

Credit: Joe Kekeris

UPDATE: Tomorrow morning, Aug. 8, thousands of striking workers will join mass picket lines and rallies at more than 100 Verizon work locations across New York and New Jersey to push the highly profitable company to back off its sweeping demands. The list of picket lines and rallies is here: http://district1.cwa-union.org/news/entry/verizon_workers_fight_for_middle_class_jobs_-_join_the_picket_line

And in the Washington, D.C., area, you can show your support for striking workers at a mobilization rally Monday at noon at the Chesapeake Complex, 13100 Columbia Pike Silver Spring.

More than 45,000 workers from New England to Virginia went on strike just after midnight today at Verizon Communications. Since bargaining began July 22, Verizon has refused to move from a long list of concession demands. As the contract expired, Verizon, a $100 billion dollar company, was still was looking for $1 billion in concessions from 45,000 workers and families. That’s about $20,000 in givebacks for every family.nearly 100 concessionary proposals remained on the table.

This despite Verizon’s 2011 annualized revenues of $108 billion and net profits of $6 billion. At the same time, Verizon Wireless just paid its parent compny, Vodaphone, a $10 billion dividend. Meanwile, Verizon’s four top executives received $258 mllion over the past four years.

The workers, members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the Electrical Workers (IBEW), say they are striking until Verizon “stops its Wisconsin-style tactics and start bargaining seriously.”

Read updates at www.cwa-union.org/verizon

Verizon already has outsourced some 25,000 jobs. It’s trying to destroy middle-class jobs and the middle-class standard of living that workers have gained over the past 50 years.

Follow the events on Twitter with the hashtag #verizonstrike and direct tweets to @VZLaborfacts.

This blog originally appeared in alf-cio Now Blog on August 7, 2011. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Tula Connell got her first union card while she worked her way through college as a banquet bartender for the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee (represented by a hotel and restaurant local union—the names of the national unions were different then than they are now). With a background in journalism—covering bull roping in Texas and school boards in Virginia—she started working in the labor movement in 1991. Beginning as a writer for SEIU (and OPEIU member), she now blogs under the title of AFL-CIO managing editor.

Hyatt Hotel Puts the Heat on Striking Workers—Literally

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

kari-lydersenCHICAGO—The Hyatt hotel chain turned up the heat on striking and picketing workers—literally—here Thursday, as 10 hanging heat lamps normally used in winter were turned on workers picketing outside the downtown Park Hyatt. This occurred on one of the year’s hottest days—with a heat index well above 100 degrees and the temperature over 80 degrees, with high humidity even early in the morning—part of a lethal nationwide heat wave.

CBS reported:

Combined with the outdoor air temperature, Linda Long says it was hotter than the Hyatt kitchen she’s worked in for eleven years. “They put the heat lamps on us, like we were nothing,” Long said. “If the heat didn’t kill us, the heat lamps would.”

Workers at Hyatts in nine cities nationwide were holding a one-day strike and picket to draw attention to contract negotiations, which have been stalled for 22 months, and what workers and union leaders call atrocious treatment of housekeepers, including sub-par wages, subcontracting out of work, and the speed at which housekeepers are expected to clean rooms.

The Chicago Tribune quoted a 42-year-old bellman about the heat lamps. He said only bellmen, engineers and select other employees can turn the lamps on, and it could not have been an accident.

This is one of the hottest days of the summer. Work at that door every single day and only in winter time do those need to be turned on. Somebody did it on purpose. It’s ridiculous.

Hyatt workers also held a one-day strike and picket last month, as Candice Bernd reported for Working In These Times:

After months of bargaining, Unite Here Local 1 has won a 3-year contractual agreement with Hilton and Starwood hotel companies this year. While Hyatt has indicated support for a contract that would match some of the settlements of Hilton and Starwood for union employees, the company continues to refuse a fair bargaining process for workers at nonunion hotels, remaining the last of the three largest hotel chains to do so. Another sticking point for Hyatt is the subcontracting out of new work.

The chain is owned by the influential Pritzker family. Chicago blogger Michael Klonsky (an occasional In These Times contributor) writes:

Heiress Penny Sue Pritzker chairs Obama’s national campaign finance committee. She is also big player in Democratic Party politics as well as in the world of anti-union, corporate school reform and was recently appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to a seat on the Chicago school board.

In a statement Hyatt said the heat lamps went on by accident and were turned off about an hour later after they were notified. Workers said they suspected that’s because media had been alerted. Klonsky reported the heat lamps seemed to energize the picketers, who chanted “You can’t smoke us out.”

This seemingly inhuman and probably illegal response seemed to have had just the opposite effect. Picketers began chanting, “Hyatt can’t take the heat, but we can!” The lamps were left on until word got out and media began to show up.

The day of action Thursday came three weeks after a report by rabbis that described the Hyatt working conditions as “not kosher” and hundreds of religious leaders picketed with workers at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago. The UNITE HERE unionwebsite says: “Hyatt Hotel Housekeepers suffer abuse. Our injury rates are high, our wages are low, and our immigrant sisters are exploited and cheated by Hyatt’s housekeeping subcontractors.”

The Chicago Tribune reported the company’s official response to Thursday’s picket:

In cities from Chicago to Waikiki and here at Park Hyatt, we have offered union leaders contract proposals that match wage and benefit packages identical to what Unite Here has accepted from other hotel companies. Yet, union leaders have rejected every one of these proposals.

This Blog originally appeared In These Times on July 22, 2011. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Kari Lydersen is an In These Times contributing editor, is a Chicago-based journalist whose works has appeared in The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Chicago Reader and The Progressive, among other publications. Her most recent book is Revolt on Goose Island. In 2011, she was awarded a Studs Terkel Community Media Award for her work. She can be reached at kari.lydersen@gmail.com.

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