Stories by Nick Blumberg

University of Chicago Faces Calls for Reparations Over Ties to Slavery; School Says Charges Are Misplaced

(WTTW News)

For the last several years, the University of Chicago has faced calls to make reparations for its ties to the slave trade. The university says it was a prior iteration of the school that benefited from slavery, not its current incarnation. As Chicago Tonight’s Nick Blumberg reports, that claim hasn’t quieted calls for the university to acknowledge history and make amends.

CDOT Announces New Public Engagement Effort, After Years Without Advisory Group Meetings

The Chicago Department of Transportation said Friday that it’s launching a new community engagement effort – more than two years since the city’s cyclist and pedestrian safety groups met. (WTTW News)

The Chicago Department of Transportation said Friday that it’s launching a new community engagement effort. It will take the place of the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council, Mayor’s Pedestrian Advisory Council, and the Vision Zero Advocacy Group.

Send Photos of Blocked Bike Lanes to 311, Alderman Says – But CDOT Says it Won’t Pursue Citations

(WTTW News)

While the Chicago Department of Transportation encourages residents to submit complaints of blocked bike lanes to 311, “requests sent to 311 are not sent to Administrative Hearings for ticketing,” CDOT said in a statement.

Bucktown Starbucks Employees Vote to Unionize; 5th Chicagoland Location, Among 150 Nationwide

(WTTW News)

With Tuesday’s successful vote in Chicago and another in St. Louis, organizers say there are now 150 union Starbucks locations around the U.S.

Redesigned Roads, Better Enforcement, and Changing Driver Mindsets: Cyclists Demand Changes to Make City Roadways Safe for All

(WTTW News)

Cyclist and pedestrian safety advocates rally for change after two toddlers are killed by drivers on Chicago streets.

Anger, Tears and Calls to Action at Rally for Cyclist and Pedestrian Safety

A memorial for three-year-old Lily Shambrook at the Uptown intersection where she was killed by a driver while riding in a carrier on her mother’s bike is pictured on June 12, 2022. (Nick Blumberg / WTTW News)

The walk-and-roll rally on Sunday began at Leavitt Street and Eastwood Avenue in Lincoln Square, where 2-year-old Raphael “Rafi” Cardenas was struck and killed by a driver June 2 while he was crossing the street on a scooter. At last report, the driver has not been cited.

One Win, Two Losses for Chicago Starbucks Locations Voting to Unionize

(WTTW News)

The Hyde Park vote brings the total number of unionized Starbucks locations in the Chicago area to four. Bucktown Starbucks employees are currently voting by mail on unionizing, with results expected next Tuesday. 

AIDS Garden Chicago Opens on a Lakefront Site With a Vibrant Queer History

 The Belmont Rocks were a limestone stretch of the lakefront where Chicago’s LGBTQ community started gathering in the 1960s. (Courtesy Owen Keehnen)

The AIDS Garden Chicago, a project many years in the making, is now open to the public. Located just south of Belmont Harbor, the garden’s location has a meaningful place in the history of the city’s queer community.

Another Edgewater Starbucks Announces Unionization Effort; Second Chicago Location Within a Week

(WTTW News)

On the heels of Chicago’s first two Starbucks locations voting to join a union last Wednesday, workers at one of the company’s Edgewater coffee shops announced plans to file for representation Tuesday morning. 

Amazon Warehouse Workers Stage Walkout, Claiming Racist Harassment and Wrongful Termination

Amazon’s Gage Park warehouse. (WTTW News)

Amazonians United says Black and Latino workers have been harassed while taking bathroom breaks and that managers have made derogatory and racist comments. The group accuses management of wrongfully firing Rakyle Johnson for sabotaging equipment, despite no proof on video and testimony to the contrary from nearby coworkers.

2 Edgewater Starbucks Locations Vote to Unionize, Marking First Organized Stores in Chicago

Workers from two Starbucks locations in Edgewater celebrate successful unionization votes on May 25, 2022. (Nick Blumberg / WTTW News)

Four other stores in Chicago – in Bucktown, Hyde Park, Logan Square, and downtown – are currently voting by mail on whether to unionize, with results expected in June. It’s part of a nationwide effort to organize Starbucks coffee shops that’s rapidly gained steam in the last year. 

CPS Replacing ‘Cornerstone’ Arts Program, Upsetting Some Educators and Students

(WTTW News)

The Advanced Arts Program has been running for more than 20 years. Before the pandemic, about 150 students were dismissed from their home school in time to travel to the Gallery 37 building for two hours of instruction each day. 

Congress Holds First Public Hearing on UFOs in More than 50 Years

For the first time in more than 50 years, Congress held an open hearing on unidentified flying objects.

Tuesday, Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security Ronald Moultrie and Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence Scott Bray testified for more than 90 minutes before House lawmakers, and later went into closed session to discuss information related to unidentified aerial phenomena(UAP) they won’t yet make public.

Cataloging and Celebrating the Workers Cottage, One of Chicago’s Original Affordable Homes

Preservationists are calling attention to a style of home known as workers cottages – an original form of affordable housing. (WTTW News)

Much of Chicago is defined by its residential buildings, a beautiful mishmash of styles, sizes, and ages. Now, preservationists are calling attention to a style of home known as workers cottages – an original form of affordable housing.

GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Richard Irvin Slams Pritzker, Sidesteps Questions on Roe and Trump

Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, a candidate for governor in the Republican primary, holds a news conference on May 9, 2022. (WTTW News)

Aurora Mayor and Republican gubernatorial candidate Richard Irvin slammed Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s handling of a COVID-19 outbreak at a state-run veterans’ home during a Monday press conference – and repeatedly avoided questions about whether he voted for Donald Trump and his stance on Roe v. Wade potentially being overturned.

Suburban Starbucks Unionization Vote Fails, First Chicago-Area Loss for Organizing Effort

(WTTW News)

Workers at more than 250 Starbucks locations around the U.S. have filed to join a union, and about 50 have voted in favor of unionization. Organizers and their supporters have accused Starbucks of aggressive “union-busting” tactics, including cutting hours, disciplining, and firing pro-union employees. 

Illinois Joins Lawsuit to Force US Postal Service Delivery Fleet to Go Electric

(WTTW News)

The federal lawsuit Illinois joined charges the Postal Service with botching its review of a plan to buy as many as 165,000 new delivery trucks in an effort to modernize its fleet. The contract calls for just 10% of those trucks to be electric vehicles.

As Mayor, Richard Irvin and His Donors Backed Effort Giving Him More Control Over Who Appears on Aurora Ballot

Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin is pictured in April 2020. (WTTW News)

Aurora Mayor and GOP gubernatorial hopeful Richard Irvin supported a successful 2018 effort to shutter the Aurora Election Commission – a move that gives him a role in deciding whether certain candidates stay on city ballots.

First Illinois Starbucks Locations Vote to Unionize

(WTTW News)

Starbucks workers at coffee shops in northwest suburban Cary and downstate Peoria have been voting by mail this month on whether they want to be represented by the Chicago and Midwest Regional Joint Board of Workers United, an SEIU affiliate.

Ken Griffin’s Trading Firm Tied to Company Aided by Richard Irvin: Report

Scientel Solutions, pictured in March 2022, relocated to Aurora after plans for its tower were approved in 2018. (Paris Schutz / WTTW News)

WTTW News previously reported that communications company Scientel Solutions and its employees have given more than $135,000 to Richard Irvin’s mayoral campaign, a PAC run by his mayoral campaign manager, and his former private practice law partner Brittany Pedersen’s judicial campaign.

Chicago-Area Starbucks Workers Pushing to Join Nationwide Unionization Movement

(WTTW News)

In December, a Starbucks in Buffalo, New York became the first of the company’s thousands of U.S. locations to vote for unionization. Just weeks later, workers at Chicago’s Randolph and Wabash location moved to join the effort.

Amazon Warehouse That Collapsed During Tornado Had Structural Flaws, Attorneys Say

Austin McEwen was killed in the Dec. 10, 2021, warehouse collapse. (Provided)

The Amazon facility in downstate Edwardsville where six workers died after the building was struck by a tornado appears to have had major structural flaws, according to a lawsuit and a government engineer’s report released by the plaintiff’s attorney.

Edgewater Store Marks Eighth Chicago-Area Starbucks Moving to Unionize

(WTTW News)

The Edgewater location brings the total to eight area Starbucks coffee shops seeking representation. Those workers are part of a rapidly expanding nationwide effort that organizers now say numbers 176 locations, 10 of which have voted in favor of joining a union.

Rideshare Drivers, Alderman Rally for Ordinance Guaranteeing Minimum Rates and Driver Protections

(Paul Hanaoka / Unsplash)

An ordinance introduced in the city council in February would mandate that rideshare drivers make a minimum rate per trip, per mile, and per minute. And it would prevent rideshare companies from taking a commission of more than 20%.

Seventh Chicago-Area Starbucks Announces Unionization Effort

(WTTW News)

The Bucktown coffee shop, located at Armitage and Hoyne avenues, joins four others in the city – Hyde Park, Logan Square, Edgewater, and downtown – and one each in suburban La Grange and Cary. 

The Week in Review: Mayor Makes Historic Council Pick

(Courtesy Chicago.gov)

Chicago casino proposal final three. City Council to consider replacements for 11th Ward alderperson. Will Congressman Mike Quigley make a bid for mayor? And Senate grills Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.