March sees successful labor organizing efforts
After months of negotiations and multiple walkouts that interrupted the concession stands at United Center during important games like the Big Ten basketball tournament, hundreds of stadium employees with Unite Here Local 1 scored a contract that includes a pension plan, paid parental leave, additional paid holidays, and raises their wages by more than $2 an hour. Also, more than 1,500 University of Chicago graduate students voted to unionize with the electrical workers union (UE) to guarantee—and increase—pay for all U of C graduate workers, following in the steps of Northwestern University grad students earlier this year. Additionally, Field Museum employees voted to unionize its approximately 300 employees with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 31.
NASCAR pushes Taste of Chicago to September
The Taste of Chicago is slated for September this year, despite normally taking place in the summer. This news broke once Chicagoans on social media noticed that one of the country’s largest food festivals was not on Grant Park’s summer schedule. Instead, with Mayor Lightfoot’s support, the park will be hosting NASCAR’s Street Race which, while only spanning a weekend, will take six weeks to set up and tear down. Grant Park will also host Lollapalooza and Sueños Music Festival, leaving little room for The Taste. Similarly to last year, the City will host Taste of Chicago pop-ups in Marquette, Pullman, and Humboldt parks.
The news has received mixed reactions, with some Chicagoans expressing interest in the changes being made to The Taste in recent years, while others disagreed. “Having the Taste of Chicago after Labor Day feels all kinds of wrong,” says @mattlindner via Twitter. According to Block Club Chicago, Alderman Brendan Reilly of the 42nd ward told reporters that the City originally made plans to host The Taste near Navy Pier in order to keep the festival in the summertime. Reilly refused, calling the ordeal a “planning disaster.”
South and West Sides 3rd worst in nation for air pollution
Chicago’s South and West Sides ranked third in the nation for highest level of fine particulate air pollution, or PM2.5 pollution, according to The Guardian. The ranking is based on a model developed by Center for Air, Climate and Energy Solutions (CACES), a research center in partnership with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). CACES researchers found that, across the country, race is a stronger predictor of air pollution exposure than income level and that the places where Black and Latinx populations live are the most burdened by pollution. “What we’re seeing here is segregation—segregation of people and segregation of pollution,” summarized a member of the research team.
PM2.5 is “emitted by cars, factories, wildfires and dusty agricultural activities” and is small enough to travel deep into the lungs and bloodstream. Long-term exposure can cause an array of health issues such as cardiovascular and respiratory disease. Communities in the South Side have lived next to “some of the region’s dirtiest industries” for decades, and the Guardian highlighted the environmental justice activism of Cheryl Johnson, executive director of People for Community Recovery, founded by her mother Hazel Johnson in 1979. “We have landfills, industrial facilities, hazardous waste sites, sewage treatment plants, chemical processing facilities, chemical disposal, underground contamination,” Johnson told the Guardian.