Advocates for mesothelioma victims


Fox Valley Labor News
staff reports
Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016

Learn more about Vogelzang Law, at Vogelzang Law’s website

CHICAGO — Vogelzang Law is a Chicago based mesothelioma and asbestos law firm dedicated to representing victims of mesothelioma.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you are most likely overwhelmed dealing with medical issues.

Although taking legal action may not be your family’s top priority, it should not be ignored. The sole focus of Vogelzang Law is representing individuals who have been exposed to asbestos, resulting in cancer.


Attorney Nicholas Vogelzang has been working with victims of asbestos-related disease and mesothelioma for nearly 20 years. During this period, he has represented more than 200 families from across the U.S. and from all different backgrounds.

Vogelzang’s interest with mesothelioma victims was sparked by his father, Dr. Nicholas Vogelzang, who also has dedicated his career to the treatment of mesothelioma patients.

Vogelzang Law is committed to serving clients and getting them the reparations they deserve. It has the resources and experience of a large firm, and it is dedicated to giving cases the personal attention only a boutique firm could offer.

Your case will never be part of a class-action lawsuit, and you will never be treated like a case number. Vogelzang Law’s, its commitment to its clients extends well beyond the walls of the courtroom.

Regardless of your location in the U.S., Vogelzang Law will travel to your home or somewhere convenient and comfortable for you. Vogelzang Law will learn about you, your family, your background and do a complete evaluation of your legal options, which is free and without obligation.

Possible CTU strike? ‘Be prepared’

CTU possible strike

CTU President Karen Lewis talks to reporters about the possibility of a teachers’ strike Monday morning. Photo courtesy of the Chicago Teachers Union

Fox Valley Labor News
staff reports
Thursday, April 21, 2016

CHICAGO — Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said April 18 a report by an independent fact-finder on contract negotiations was “dead on arrival” since it was essentially the same offer the Board of Education had made and the union had rejected.

As to what she would tell parents about the possibility of strike, Lewis said: “Be prepared.”

The proposal Lewis had once said was a “serious offer” from the Board of Education proposed net raises over four years, the phasing out of over two years of a 7 percent pension contribution CPS has been making for members, and a return to raises for continuing education and experience for teachers as soon as next school year.

But now, Lewis said CPS negotiators has even told them the broke school district can no longer even afford that offer. Lewis said CTU has bargained in good faith but argued CPS has not.

“Why are we talking about this as if some magical revenue fix has appeared . . . ? Lewis asked. “CPS is searching for cash under rocks, seat cushions and their uncles’ pants pockets,” she said.

Lewis said union officials will head back to the bargaining table with the Board of Education April 21 and that no decision has been made whether there could be a strike at the end of this school year or the beginning of the next.

The union has another 28 days as part of a cooling off period, then must file a 10-day notice of its intention to strike before doing it, putting a strike near the end of the school year as the earliest CTU could take that action.

Taking it to the streets!


Fox Valley Labor News
staff reports
Thursday, April 21, 2016

CHICAGO — Thousands of low-wage workers, labor organizations and their supporters staged protest marches April 14 throughout Chicago to fight for a $15 minimum wage and union representation.

The action is the first major strike since historic wins for $15 an hour minimum wages in in New York and California.

Fight for $15

A series of Labor protests for the Fight for $15 movement were held in Chicago and across the country April 14. Protestors and their supporters are demanding the minimum wage be raised to $15 per hour and union representation. Photo courtesy of Fight for $15 Chicago

Chicago demonstrations began early April 14 at a McDonalds on the South Side, where people blocked traffic and claimed solidarity with other low-wage workers. McDonald’s was targeted because of its ability to influence pay practices throughout the economy.

Fight for $15

April 14 was a day to demonstrate in support of a $15 minimum wage, with several marches around the city of Chicago. Photo courtesy of Fight for $15.

The protest later moved to Loyola University on the North Side. The groups are all demanding a living wage.

April 13, the Service Employees International Union Healthcare Illinois (SEIU) nursing home workers, childcare and home health care workers rallied and marched as part of the Fight for $15 movement, going to two nursing homes on the North Side and accusing Gov. Bruce Rauner of “holding the budget hostage in an effort to drive wages and benefits down into the dirt.”

Low-wage workers protested April 14 for a $15 minimum wage and union rights in more than 300 U.S. cities and 40 countries, representing the largest Fight for $15 strike since the campaign began in 2012.

Fight for $15.

A giant banner is seen hanging from the roof of a building to the south of the Rock ‘n Roll McDonalds in Chicago. Photo courtesy of Fight for $15.

The push is being backed by the SEIU and began in late 2012, with striking fast-food workers in New York City. Since then, the growing demonstrations have helped make hourly pay a major political issue.

Chicago already has taken steps to gradually increase its minimum wage to $13 an hour by 2019, but Fight for $15 activists have said that’s not good enough.

Midwest training facility ramping up for students

United Association/Local 597 Midwest Training Facility

At the United Association/Local 597 Midwest Training Facility, students learn the skills needed to take them to the next level and secure a job in the pipe welding industry. Photo courtesy of “SMAW” by Mgschuler via Wikipedia

United Association/Local 597 Midwest Training Facility

Jennifer Rice Managing Editor

By Jennifer Rice
Managing Editor
Thursday, April 16, 2015
Email Jennifer Rice at: jen@foxvalley

AURORA — Since October 2014, the United Association Local 597 Midwest Training Facility has been in the state of a “soft opening,” bringing in hand fulls of welding students on a weekly basis, teaching them on state-of-the-art equipment, and polishing their skills, but now, the facility is ready to take on an influx of students.

Recently, the Aurora training center has been ramping up its efforts to get the word out — nationwide — on what UA Marketing Representative Chad Dawson calls, “the best kept secret in the Midwest.”

“We’re reaching out to everybody we can — people in the nonunion sector, students from welding schools, unions, anyone we can reach out to, to tell them about this opportunity. We’re offering to bring them in, evaluate their skills, and then better their already existing skills. We’ll certify them, make them a member in a local union somewhere across the country, preferably where they live, or where there’s a high demand for work,” Dawson explained.

United Association/Local 597 Midwest Training Facility

At the Aurora United Association Local 597 Midwest Training Facility, students get the highest quality of training to keep their skills up-to-date. No other organization serves the training needs of the piping industry. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

Pipe welders are in high demand, especially in heavy industrial.

In December, both Rep. Bill Foster and UA International Representative Mark Buss toured the facility for the first time. Buss said all you have to do is look at the current, nation-wide domestic energy boom to see that pipe welders are in high demand. “Opportunities out there are just tremendous,” he said, pointing to the Northeast in the Utica and Marcellus shales area in New York; the Gulf Coast, such as Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi, and North Dakota.

Dawson said the majority of the vehicles in the training facility’s parking lot are from out-of-state.

Students currently undergoing training are expanding their welding skills, learning from leading industry professionals, and getting it all for FREE, which can be difficult to believe.

United Association/Local 597 Midwest Training Facility

Welding instructor Monte Kimes shows Rep. Bill Foster the main computer control panel where adjustments can be made to make sure exact airflow is maintained, based on the number of welders in operation. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

Even though a student doesn’t have to pay, it doesn’t mean that he won’t be giving of themselves. Students are required to train four days a week at 10 hour days, and train Saturday and Sunday at 8 hour days. They also are responsible for their own housing, food and entertainment. Local 597 member William Hite Jr. said, “If [students] are under the hood for that many hours, it means they are out of here sooner and working.”

The training center houses 75 weld booths. Instructors also teach the hybrid welding program. At night, HVACR is being taught.
Upon arrival, students are given an evaluation, which will determine where their skill set is at. Hite said the goal is for students to achieve as many certificates as they can.

United Association/Local 597 Midwest Training Facility

From left, welding instructor Monte Kimes, UA International Representative Mark Buss, Rep. Bill Foster, UA Marketing Representative Chad Dawson and Local 597 Business Representative Scott Roscoe. Jennifer Rice/staff photographer

The cost of a for-profit welding school can cost between $18,000 and $30,000 and skills learned can be subpar. “The students that went to for-profit schools are not up to our standards, Dawson said. “The are employed with contractors who never let them better their skills, and they get stuck. At this training facility, we want to catch them before they get stuck in that position and actually show them how to weld pipe on a standard that they never knew they could achieve.”

Three full-time instructors handle any skill set a student has.

“We’re here to welcome the most talented individuals we can come up with,” welding instructor Monte Kimes said. “The opportunity is here, for anybody willing to work hard and has the aptitude for welding.”

Across the country, Fight for $15 continues

Chicago's Fight for $15
Pat Barcas/staff photographer
This McDonald’s worker was one of 51 arrested Sept. 4 after engaging in civil disobedience for blocking the streets in front of two McDonald’s locations in Chicago. The Fight for $15 was part of a national day of action.

By Pat Barcas
Staff writer
Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014
Email Pat Barcas at

CHICAGO — The Fight for $15 movement has been ramping up protests since last year, and fast food workers certainly garnered attention Sept. 4 when 51 were arrested in Chicago as part of a national day of action.
The workers were arrested engaging in civil disobedience for blocking the streets in front of two McDonald’s locations in the city. They are fighting to win $15 per hour and a union without retaliation.

“We’re going to have walkouts all over the country,” said Kendall Fells, organizing director of the movement called Fight for $15. “There are going to be workers who don’t show up to work or who walk off the job at 12:01 a.m. or at noon.”

The Fight for 15 campaign reported that 436 fast-food workers had been arrested nationwide on the day of the protest, which came a day after President Obama highlighted their campaign in a Labor Day speech: “All across the country right now there’s a national movement going on made up of fast-food workers organizing to lift wages so they can provide for their families with pride and dignity. There is no denying a simple truth. America deserves a raise. Give America a raise,” said Obama in Milwaukee Sept. 1. “You know what, if I were looking for a job that lets me build some security for my family, I’d join a union. If I were busting my butt in the service industry and wanted an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work, I’d join a union . . . I’d want a union looking out for me.”

Chicago's Fight for $15
Pat Barcas/staff photographer
The Fight for $15 is a union-backed campaign where workers are demanding $15 an hour wage and union recognition. Supporters, above, shame big fast-food companies like McDonald’s over low pay and irregular hours.

The action came on the heels of a July convention where fast food workers vowed to do whatever it takes to win $15 and the right to form a union. Clergy, elected officials and community supporters, including Alderman Sawyer of the 6th ward and Alderman Muñoz of the 22nd ward, joined workers and union representatives from Brazil, Colombia, and Argentina the strike lines in front of McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s restaurants.

Inspired by the actions of fast-food workers, Service Employees International Union home care workers have also decided to join the nationwide movement for higher pay and better rights on the job. In several cities, including Chicago, both non-union and union home care workers stood with fast food workers.

Patching roofs and patching hearts of foster children

National Roofing Week
Pat Barcas/staff photographer
As part of National Roofing Week, July 6 to 12, several roofing companies came together to donate their time/supplies to make repairs on the roof of the Lydia Home Association in Chicago, a foster care home that houses about 50 youth.

By Pat Barcas
Staff writer
Thursday, July 10, 2014
Email Pat Barcas at

CHICAGO — It was a little rainy, but at least it wasn’t sweltering hot on the roof of the Lydia Home Association in Chicago July 8. As part of National Roofing Week, July 6-12, the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) gathered volunteers to repair the aging roof of the facility for abused children.

“This roof was definitely on borrowed time,” said Rod Petrick, owner of Ridgeworth Roofing Co. His company helped out on the rehab of the roof.

“It could probably use a full replacement in the future, but this is a typical Chicago roof, it might have six or eight layers on it. It’s definitely not a one day job,” Petrick added.

The roofers battled rain and clouds, but succeeded in patching up the rough spots of the roof. Four companies participated in the charity project: Ridgeworth Roofing, Nations Roof, Bennett and Brousseau Roofing, and Karnak Roofing Products donated the supplies.

The Lydia Home Association is dedicated to helping troubled children and their families with a variety of services, including housing for at-risk children. The facility has been located off Irving Park Road for about 100 years, and was an orphanage that turned into foster care that houses about 50 youth at a time, from first grade to high school age.

National Roofing Week
Pat Barcas/staff photographer
During National Roofing Week, a Nations Roof employee seals the gaps around a roof vent pipe atop the Lydia Home Association building.

Dr. David Anderson, executive director of the Lydia Home, said a main goal of the home is to acclimate troubled youth for their next phase of life. He comes from a background as a bricklayer, and said the trades are invaluable for the kids.

“Most kids go into the trades. They can be invaluably helpful to the kids and we find great success there,” he said during a tour of the home to NRCA executives, who are in Chicago this week for the annual mid-summer meeting.

Anderson transitioned from bricklayer to psychologist, and started as a teacher at the home, which has an $8 million per year operating budget. It relies on some state funding, but is tuition-based.

He recalled a session in a classroom setting where students were talking about gunshots.

“About 75 percent of the class had been shot. Kids were showing off bullet wounds. This is major trauma, and it’s definitely an interesting group of kids. They have nowhere else to go, and we all have the capacity to give back and help them,” he said.

With the rainy summer, patching up the old roof couldn’t have come at a better time, according to Jim Whitfield, national director of operations for Safe Families for Children, an organization that operates in the Lydia Home, and which acts as a safety net for families in crisis.

“Our budget every year is ‘just enough.’ We don’t have enough for major fixes like this. We had a few offices where there was seepage coming through the roof already, and this was just a really opportune time for them to come out and help us. We really appreciate it,” said Whitfield.”

Homeland Security chief visits detention center

Illinois Immigration Detention Center
Pat Barcas/staff photographer
From left, Rep. Bill Foster, Rep. Luis Gutierrez and Sen. Dick Durbin met with U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security in Broadview June 13 to discuss federal policy regarding deportations.

By Pat Barcas
Staff writer
Thursday, June 19, 2014
Email Pat Barcas at

BROADVIEW — Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson took a tour of the immigrant detention center in Broadview June 13, viewing some of the impact his agency has on undocumented immigrants in this country.

That private tour, as well as a meeting with Chicago area immigration activists, serves as a basis for information Johnson plans to take back to President Obama as he reviews the ongoing deportation policy. Immigration reform proponents are hoping it’s another small step toward overall immigration reform in 2014.

“I’ve seen firsthand the suffering caused by deportations,” said U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, who joined Johnson in a press conference at the Dirksen Federal Building downtown, along with U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, and U.S. Rep. Bill Foster. “The pain felt by those individuals and their families is vast and not easily shaken by those of us who have witnessed it firsthand.”

The President’s review of deportation policies is expected to conclude in August. Johnson said he saw families being broken up at the detention center, and people who were about to be deported who had been here for years.

“We need to pass the (immigration reform) bill for a variety of reasons from my Homeland Security perspective,” said Johnson, “I’m looking at how we can fix that system within the confines of existing law.”

Illinois Immigration Detention Center
Pat Barcas/staff photographer
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson visited Illinois at Sen. Dick Durbin’s request to learn more about the local impact of his agency’s policies. Johnson also toured the Broadview Immigration Detention Center to talk with individuals awaiting imminent deportation.

Gutierrez criticized House Republicans for failing to act on a reform bill.

“The facts remain the same: too many families being broken up, too many deportations, too much detention, too few legal immigration avenues, and too little sense of urgency in Washington among House Republicans,” Gutierrez said. “We still have a window to pass sensible border security and immigration reform legislation, but Republicans must act soon or the President will have no choice but to take action within existing law.”

Gutierrez said if a vote in the House were called, enough Republicans support reform that the measure would be passed. A hurdle did surface, however, when Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor was defeated May 10 to Tea Party candidate David Brat — meaning a vote is even less likely to be called.

“I’ve always been a supporter of immigration reform, but seeing the ramifications of our broken system at the Broadview Detention Center this morning was a heartbreaking reminder of why we need to keep up the fight,” said Foster. “Our broken deportation system is needlessly tearing families apart. We cannot wait any longer. We must pass comprehensive immigration reform now. Next week I hope House Republicans will appoint new leaders who are ready to listen to the millions of voices calling for action. From businesses leaders, to religious leaders, to law enforcement, the call has never been louder: Congress must take action and pass comprehensive immigration reform.”