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'Stand Up Chicago' June 14, 2011... Thousands march against corporate greed in Chicago

More than 4,000 people, led by labor unions — including the Chicago Teachers Union and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU — and dozens of community organizations and leaders marched on Chicago's Regency Hyatt Hotel on June 14, 2011. The march converged on the Hyatt from three different directions: a group that assembled at the Daley Plaza; a group that assembled at the State of Illinois building; and a group that assembled at City Center.

The march, which coincided with a conference of corporate Chief Financial Officers (CFOs), was in protest against the continued rule by corporate elites that have purchased government so that corporations pay few taxes and bailouts go to banks and major financial institutions. Meanwhile children are deprived of adequate public schools, families are losing their homes to foreclosure, and millions have lost their jobs. In some states, union busting legislation is pushed quickly through corporate dominated legislatures. In illinois, corporate millions have bought a less quick attack on teachers and other public employees.

Chicago Teachers Union leaders and members led one of the three feeder marches towards the Regency Hyatt Hotel on Chicago's East Wacker Drive three blocks north of Millennium Park. Substance photo by Graham Hill.The protests began at the three sites across downtown Chicago and converged at the Regency Hyatt Hotel, which sits on both sides of Stetson St. on East Wacker Drive. The specific site of the end of the protest was chosen, according to march organizers, because a meeting of corporate Chief Financial Officers was taking place at the hotel — and because the hotel is mostly owned by the billionaire Pritzker family, which has been adding to a long tradition of union busting recently. Several Pritzkers own large blocs of Hyatt stock despite a recent IPO, and two Pritzkers are on the Hyatt Board of Directors.

One of those directors, billionaire Penny Pritzker, who served as Barack Obama's campaign finance chairman in 2008, has been appointed to the Chicago Board of Education by millionaire Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The Pritzker family, eleven of whose Chicago members are listed on the Forbes billionaires list, has perfected corporate tax avoidance strategies for three generations, beginning with the establishment of dozens of family trusts — in effect, corporate tax dodges — for his heirs in the Bahamas by A.N. Pritzker, who solidified the family fortune more than 40 years ago.

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis (above at microphone) led one of the feeder marches and spoke to the crowd of more than 1,000 teachers, parents and students as the march began to head south on Michigan Ave. towards the Hyatt. Substance photo by Graham Hill.The marchers, which came from across the Chicago area, began assembling at the three sites in mid-afternoon, converging on the Regency Hyatt at East Wacker Drive and Stetson by 4:00 p.m.

Rallies and protests were held at all three sites as the marches were converging. One of the groups unfurled a banner from the Trump Tower as the march was heading east. At the termination side, the marchers were greeted by dozens of Chicago police, including 12 on horseback, and a large number of Hyatt Hotel security staff. Chicago Streets and Sanitation workers were observed unloading materials to block off streets on Stetson a few minutes before the marchers reached the Hyatt.

For most Chicago teachers who participated in the march, the action began at Cityfront Plaza shortly after school let out. The marchers assembled there, were told how the march was to proceed, and heard from a number of speakers including CTU President Karen Lewis.

Teachers and students, joined by parents, carried signs that read "Students before bankers" and "End corporate greed!" Three 12 foot tall puppets (depicting "corporate greed") led the march. A banner was unfurled along the river side as the march went forward. The teachers were joined by students and parents marching behind signs that carried slogans denouncing the tax breaks for bankers and the wealthy that cost public schools.

Signs at the marches detailed how little corporate America has been paying to support the nation that makes its great wealth possible. Noting that Chase bank's 2010 profits were $24 billion (following a larger bailout by the U.S. government) and that Chase paid not corporate taxes, protesters were enraged. Substance photo by Susan Zupan.The Chicago Teachers Union has been leading opposition to the corporate attacks on public schools in Illinois, including charter schools and recent legislation that union leaders characterize as union busting. A series of photographs from the beginning of the march was posted at the new Chicago Teachers Union website (www.ctunet.com) and can be accessed by those who can't access the hotlink above at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/chicagoteachersunion/sets/72157626964825100/show/

Twenty-four people, including officers of the CTU and SEIU, were arrested at the Hyatt when they staged a non-violent sit-in at Stetson Drive and Wacker Drive between the east and west sides of the Regency Hyatt. Those arrested were issued citations by police. Several of those arrested told Substance that the police were friendly but firm at the time of the civil disobedience that led to the arrests.

A second series of photographs has been posted showing the arrests at the Chicago Teachers Union website (www.ctunet.com). The URL for those who can't access a hotlink is: http://www.flickr.com/photos/chicagoteachersunion/sets/72157626964825100/show/

Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Jesse Sharkey (left, in sun glasses) being arrested during civil disobedience in front of the Pritzker family's Hyatt Regency Chicago hotel on June 14, 2011. Substance photo by Graham Hill.Those arrested included Chicago Teachers Union officers (Jesse Sharkey, vice president; Kristine Mayle, financial secretary), Tom Balanoff (president of the Service Employees International Union Local 1 in Chicago), and more than a dozen teachers.

The bulk of the marchers reached Chicago's Regency Hyatt Hotel by 4:00 p.m. on schedule. The large crowd filled Wacker Drive in front of the hotel and chanted for more than half an hour. The group dispersed following the rally, heading south on Stetson (which bisects the Regency Hyatt) to buses which had brought many of them to the event.

The protest was aimed at the Hyatt because an invitation-only "Executive Summit" was being held for corporate Chief Financial Officers inside. Protesters asked to meet with representatives of the corporations but were denied. Signs and puppets denounced the arrogance and financial cheating of corporate America.

Major media coverage should provide interesting analysis during the next couple of days. As of dawn on June 15, neither the Chicago Tribune nor the Chicago Sun-Times had posted stories in their on line editions. The corporate chieftans also refused requests for interviews from major corporate media, according to press reports. Although one part of the march assembled adjacent to the Chicago Tribune building, the Tribune's on-line edition failed to cover it, while promoting stories that included the fact that actor Rob Lowe will play investigative reporter Drew Pearson in an upcoming movie. The Tribune's WGN television and radio did cover the protests. (The URL for the two-minute WGN TV report for those who cannot access the hotlink above is: http://www.wgntv.com/news/wgntv-cfo-protest-june14,0,1710839.story). Several Substance reporters and other teachers have promised individual stories from the marches and rally, which was too large for any one story to cover.

At the end of the three marches the teachers and others exited south on Stetson. Substance photo by Garth Liebhaber.The Chicago Teachers Union has asked its members to protest at the Chicago Board of Education's June 22 meeting beginning at 9:00 a.m. that day. The June 22 Board of Education meeting will be the first regular meeting of the Board, which was appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel following his recent election. Emanule appointed millionaire David Vitale as Board President; billionaire Penny Pritzker is one of the six other Board members.



Comments:

June 15, 2011 at 9:06 AM

By: John Kugler

Chicago Papers Morally Bankrupt

stooges and lap dogs for the rich.

If I was not reminded by my four children and wife everyday I come home that what is happening to us is class-warfare, I would have thought I was in a black-and-white movie from the 1900's

June 15, 2011 at 9:59 AM

By: Bob Busch

John

What did they do now to get you so upset?

June 15, 2011 at 1:48 PM

By: Sharon Schmidt

Board voted against funding teacher raises

7-0 against the resolution

June 15, 2011 at 2:21 PM

By: john whitfield

In baseball, what's it called

When you are at bat in baseball, what's that called when the pitch is not a ball?

June 15, 2011 at 4:30 PM

By: Theresa D. Daniels

The shameful CPS Board of Education

Great fast coverage and photos of the rally, George and others. Really grateful for it. On other events of the day, can you believe that this board composed of billionaires and some "mere" millionaires, as you once so aptly put it, would pretend they can't afford the contractually agreed to raise for the teachers and would vote to go head to head with the unions? Maybe the rally was so embarrassing to them they had to front us off. I'm sure such skunks have many more embarrassment awaiting them in the future.

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