Over the past few years, Chicago has emerged as a city at the forefront of a nationwide influx in labor organizing among hospitality workers, led largely by coffee chain employees at local outposts of Colectivo Coffee, Intelligentsia Coffee, and Starbucks. In November, that union drum could reach a fever pitch when Illinois voters cast their midterm ballots that will include a question asking whether or not they support adding constitutional protections for workers seeking unionization in the state.
If approved by 60 percent of the Illinois electorate, the Workers’ Rights Amendment crafted by the General Assembly “provides that employees shall have the fundamental right to organize and to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing for the purpose of negotiating wages, hours, and working conditions, and to protect their economic welfare and safety at work.”
The measure would amend Article 1 of the Illinois Constitution, the state’s replica of the federal Bill of Rights, and includes language that closely aligns with the National Labor Relations Act of 1935, a foundational labor law statute that guarantees the right of workers to form unions and bargain collectively.
Though bipartisan votes in the General Assembly put the amendment on the ballot in the first place, Illinois’ Republican Party has voiced opposition to the measure, as have the Illinois Chamber of Commerce and the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, according to NBC Chicago. Unsurprisingly, Democrats such as Gov. J.B. Pritzker and labor groups including the Chicago Teachers’ Union and the state chapter of AFL-CIO have expressed support.
Chicago’s modern Greek mega-hit heads to the Dairy State
Avli, the sleek modern Greek restaurant based in suburban Winnetka with three Chicago locations, will significantly expand its Midwestern footprint with the launch of its first location outside Illinois. Co-founders Louie Alexakis and famed sportscaster Lou Canellis are aiming for a spring 2023 debut in Milwaukee’s Brewers Hill neighborhood, bringing new energy to the former home of Wolf Peach and longtime local favorite Roots, according to Milwaukee Magazine.
A pilot program lets some Illinois residents use SNAP benefits at restaurants
A new pilot program in Illinois is seeking to address a gap in the state’s Link Card program (known to many as food stamps) by allowing holders who are elderly, experiencing homelessness, or have a disability to use their SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits to purchase prepared foods and hot meals at restaurants, according to WBEZ. The state has joined five others — Arizona, California, Maryland, Michigan, Rhode Island, and Virginia — in making the change. Reporters note that so far only five Chicago restaurants are participating in the program: Firehouse Bakery and Grill, Doughboy’s, S2 Express Grill, BJ’s Market, and one location of JJ Fish & Chicken on 79th Street.