The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Thousands Shut Down Chicago Streets Protesting ALEC Agenda
By John Wojcik
Thousands of union and non-union workers and their allies shut down the streets around the posh Palmer House Hilton here yesterday, protesting the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) meeting at the hotel. The demonstrators, organized by the 500,000-member Chicago Federation of Labor (CFL) and a host of community allies, say ALEC is hurting just about everyone in America who is not part of the top one percent.
ALEC is behind hundreds of bills its lawmaker members push through state legislative bodies—bills that destroy collective bargaining rights, lower wages, limit voting rights, weaken environmental protection—and it is behind the notorious "stand your ground" laws backed by the National Rifle Association.
Outside the hotel, on Monroe Street, the Musicians Union Band played "When the Saints Go Marchin' In" as wave after wave of members from every union in Chicagoland filled the sidewalk and the street.
Elevated Chicago Transit Authority trains passing along the Wabash Ave. blew their horns in support as hundreds who couldn't fit on Monroe Street spilled out to the adjoining street under the train trestle. The crowds roared every time they heard the train operators blow the horns.
"This is a beautiful gathering not just of union workers and non-union workers but of all our allies as well—a true coalition," declared Bob Reiter, secretary-treasurer of the CFL, in his speech to the cheering crowds.
"ALEC thinks they can, in secret, take over the democratic process and write our laws for us," Reiter continued. "They are wrong and we are here to show them that."
"Save the workers, save the teachers, save the students, save the youngsters, save the carpenters, save the janitors and the machinists—save all your people," the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. implored from the podium. The crowd shouted approval after each group he mentioned.
Among the demonstrators against ALEC was Melissa Rakestraw, a letter carrier from Schaumburg, IL.
"You know that $5.5 billion mandate with Congress forcing the postal service to pay that out for future pensions?" Rakestraw said, explaining why she came to protest. "That's what's killing the post office and it was John McHugh, a Republican congressman—a member of ALEC—who pushed that through years ago. ALEC has its deadly fingers everywhere."
Kimberly Bowsky, a teacher at Seward Elementary School in Chicago's Back of the Yards neighborhood, was also intent on voicing her opposition to ALEC, "I see the scars in my neighborhood. I haven't lost my job yet, but I know these people are out not just to cut services but to kill public education altogether."
"It's got to stop," Bowsky concluded. "That's why I'm here."
Visit EcoWatch’s ENERGY page for more related news on this topic.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Jeff Turrentine
First off: Bangkok Wakes to Rain, the intricately wrought, elegantly crafted debut novel by the Thai-American author Pitchaya Sudbanthad, isn't really about climate change. This tale set in the sprawling subtropical Thai capital is ultimately a kind of family saga — although its interconnected characters aren't necessarily linked by a bloodline. What binds them is their relationship to a small parcel of urban land on which has variously stood a Christian mission, an upper-class family house, and a towering condominium. All of the characters have either called this place home or had some other significant connection to it.
Maine Gov. Janet Mills signed a bill into law Thursday banning public schools or universities in the state from using Native American mascots, names or imagery. Mills' action will make Maine the first state in the nation with such a ban once it goes into effect later this year, The Bangor Daily News reported.
Inslee's 'Evergreen Economy Plan' Calls for $9 Trillion Investment in New Green Jobs, Would Help Fossil Fuel Workers Transition
By Julia Conley
A new climate action plan put forth by Democratic presidential candidate Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday is being praised for highlighting the enormous benefits that would result from a rapid shift in the U.S. to a renewable energy economy that centers on the needs of workers and vulnerable communities.