Quinn opens roadway to community development

Pat Barcas
Staff writer
Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013

     PULLMAN PARK — Gov. Pat Quinn was joined Feb. 18 by community and business leaders to reopen a critical roadway to the Pullman Park development on Chicago’s South Side.
     Funded by a $4.6 million investment through the federal “IKE” Disaster Recovery Program, construction of the new road created 300 construction jobs. An additional 400 construction and 1,000 permanent retail jobs are expected when the Pullman Park development is completed.
     “Today is a great day for everyone who lives and works in Pullman Park,” Quinn said. “Infrastructure improvements like this support communities as they grow by putting people back to work and laying the foundation for economic development for years to come.”
     The state’s award helped fund road and infrastructure improvements to Woodlawn/Doty Avenue between 103rd Street and 106th Street, parts of which have deteriorated since flooding in 2008. The project includes incorporate sewer and water main improvements that will help prevent damage from future flooding.
     The retail phase of the project is currently underway and will be anchored by Wal-Mart, Ross Dress for Less and Planet Fitness. The new Wal-Mart store will provide grocery services to an area currently classified as a “food desert” for its inaccessibility to fresh foods. Other plans for the 180-acre, mixed use development include affordable housing and park and recreation space.
     “The reconstruction of this section of Doty Avenue represents an important step forward in the recovery and transformation of Pullman,” said David Doig, president of Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives. “Without the vital contribution made by the state of Illinois, this milestone would be extremely difficult to achieve in today’s challenging economic environment. We thank Governor Quinn for his dedication to economic growth and job creation, particularly in underserved communities like Pullman.”
     The project’s economic development assistance comes from the state’s IKE-Disaster Recovery Program named for Hurricane Ike, the 2008 disaster that ranks among the costliest hurricanes to make landfall in the United States. Illinois received a total of $193.7 million in federal disaster funds under the program to aid communities in 41 Illinois counties.
     “The investments we’re making through the IKE program are providing much needed relief in communities throughout the state by helping address limitations to economic growth and future recovery,” DCEO Acting Director Adam Pollet said.
     The IKE-ED program is part of the governor’s continuing commitment to providing essential resources for Illinois’ small and mid-sized communities as they strengthen their economies. Projects approved for IKE-Economic Development assistance support both permanent and construction job creation through funding improvements to local infrastructure, company equipment costs and other assistance that will attract or support private companies in locating or remaining in an affected area.

Pat Barcas’ e-mail address is pat@foxvalleylabornews.com.

Chicago passes SEIU Local 73, IBEW Local 21 contract

By Pat Barcas
Staff Writer
Thursday, Oct. 11

     CHICAGO — The Chicago City Council approved a new four-year contract agreement Oct. 2 with the SEIU Local 73 and IBEW Local 21 — which together comprise the Public Safety Employees Unit II bargaining unit, made up of 2,500 union workers.
     Unit II consists of approximately 2,100 employees represented by SEIU Local 73, as well as 400 employees represented by IBEW Local 21. The new agreement extends through June 30, 2016.
     “This is a practical, reasonable agreement that is good for the taxpayers, good for the workers, and good for the city,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “This agreement is a direct representation of the positive outcomes that result when both parties sit down and negotiate in good faith with the best interests of the city in mind.”
     The basic economic terms of the agreement are as follows:
     The employees will receive 1.5 percent raises Jan. 1, 2013 and Jan. 1, 2014, and will receive 1 percent raises on Jan. 1, 2015; July 1, 2015; and Jan. 1, 2016. The agreement also will include a single lump sum payment for employees, payable 30 days after the agreement is ratified by the City Council. These payments will range from $150 to $500 per employee.
     In addition, the wage rates for full-time “entry-level” employees (during the first five years of employment), will be frozen at current levels during the term of the agreement, allowing these rates to be economically competitive with those in the private sector and elsewhere.
Such full-time employees will continue to be eligible for annual step increases.
     “The new agreement guarantees these dedicated employees wage increases over the four-year term, and continues the opportunity for public employees to provide critical public safety services to the residents of this great city,” said SEIU Local 73 Business Manager Matt Brandon. “I want to take this opportunity to thank Mayor Emanuel and the City’s negotiating team for removing the uncertainty of unpaid furlough days and unpaid holidays from the negotiating process. Although these were tough negotiations, I truly believe that this was an open and honest process that required both the city and the unions to make the necessary sacrifices that addressed the pressing concerns that this troubled economy has placed on the workers and the residents of the City of Chicago.”

Pat Barcas’ e-mail address is pat@foxvalleylabornews.com.