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New Labor-Community Coalition?

Does growing political independence on the part of organized labor in Chicago present possibilities for new labor-community coalitions?

A forum this Friday, hosted by the Chicago Center for Working-Class Studies, will discuss “the politics of the new Chicago labor movement” and “the future of the new Chicago labor-community coalition.”

Once a loyal division of the Chicago machine, labor has grown more independent as Mayor Daley has increasingly emphasized pro-business strategies including privatization of city services and opposed labor-backed initiatives like living wage ordinances.

Last year SEIU held training sessions for potential aldermanic candidates and charted union membership in each ward. In this year’s election — with Daley’s patronage armies taken out of the picture by federal prosecutions — labor contributed funds and foot soldiers to help defeat key mayoral allies and elect seven new council members.

“Something really different happened,” said Bob Bruno of the Center for Working-Class Studies, housed at UIC. Labor “ran against the mayor across the city and beat him just about everywhere.”

One panel at Friday’s forum — with CFL secretary-treasurer Jorge Ramirez, SEIU state political director Genie Kastrup, and Illinois Citizen Action’s William McNary — will focus on the aldermanic election. A second panel will look at housing, public transportation, and privatization, with John Cameron of AFSCME, John Bartlett of Metropolitan Tenants Organization, and Alejandra Ibanez of Pilsen Alliance.

Bruno says the forum could lead to further roundtable discussions of issues that could inspire coalition work.

The forum takes place Friday, November 30, 2 to 5 p.m. at Roosevelt University, 430 S. Michigan. Admission is free but pre-registration is requested (312-996-2491).

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Category: City Council, housing, labor, privatization

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