Stories by nick blumberg

Advocates Say Cleanup of Coal Ash at Northwest Indiana Power Plant Leaves Regional Water Supply at Risk

The Michigan City Generating Station has been burning coal for electricity for nearly a century. (WTTW News)

Northern Indiana Public Service Company is retiring the 130-acre Michigan City Generating Station, which has been burning coal for electricity for nearly a century. The company is also cleaning up decades of coal ash byproduct. But advocates say plans to leave some coal ash on the site puts groundwater and Lake Michigan in danger of contamination. 

Elmhurst Starbucks Workers File for Union Representation

Starbucks sign is pictured in a file photo. (WTTW News)

Employees at a Starbucks in west suburban Elmhurst say they’ve filed for union representation, joining hundreds of other coffee shops around the country and in the Chicago area.

Chicago Fire Soccer Facility Planned on 26 Acres of Housing Authority Land Clears City Council

A rendering of the planned Chicago Fire Club practice facility on former Chicago Housing Authority land. (Courtesy of Chicago Department of Planning and Development.)

The Chicago Fire’s plan is set to transform the vacant Near West Side property into practice soccer fields and a training and administrative building. The empty land was part of the massive CHA complex known as the Addams-Brooks-Loomis-Abbott homes. 

Union Backers Blast Starbucks Labor Practices During Capitol Hill Hearing

 A Starbucks worker in Edgewater participates in a one-day strike on Aug. 30, 2022. (WTTW News)

House lawmakers heard testimony Wednesday on barriers workers say they face to organizing, and what pro-business groups and Republicans in Congress call Democratic overreach.

Cyclist Struck and Killed By Driver in River West; Fifth Cyclist Death in Chicago This Year

(WTTW News)

A witness to the crash told WTTW News the man was a cyclist riding on an e-bike. The Chicago Fire Department confirmed a man in 40s was struck near Milwaukee Avenue and Morgan Street in River West and taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in serious to critical condition, though the department described him as a motorcyclist.

Street Resurfacing Must Include Better Transportation Upgrades, Advocates Say at Demonstration

Advocates rally in Roscoe Village’s Fellger Park on Sept. 7, 2022, calling on the city to include more infrastructure upgrades for cyclists, bus passengers, and pedestrians during an upcoming resurfacing of Belmont Avenue. (Nick Blumberg / WTTW News)

The groups say they don’t just want things like protected bike lanes, signal priority for buses, and other improvements to be limited to this stretch of street, calling on the Chicago Department of Transportation to “perform critical safety and quality-of-life upgrades” in the course of every major street resurfacing citywide.

Unionized Starbucks Workers in Edgewater Go on One-Day Strike

(WTTW News)

Workers at a unionized Starbucks coffee shop in Edgewater walked off the job Tuesday, protesting what they say is a pattern of the company illegally disciplining employees as retaliation for organizing. Similar charges have been echoed by pro-union Starbucks workers around the U.S. 

Lakeview Starbucks Location Moves to Unionize

Starbucks sign is pictured in a file photo. (WTTW News)

The workers at the coffee shop, located at the corner of Irving Park Road and Ashland Avenue, are seeking to join the seven other Chicago-area Starbucks locations that have so far voted in favor of unionizing. 

Edgewater Starbucks Union Vote Succeeds as Charges of Company Retaliation Intensify

(WTTW News)

The results of the election were released by organizers after a National Labor Relations Board vote count Friday morning. The Devon and Broadway Starbucks joins two others in Edgewater, and one each in Bucktown, Hyde Park, North Park and northwest suburban Cary.

Amazon Employees Say Company Retaliated After Charges of Racially Hostile Work Environment

Employees at an Amazon warehouse at 250 Emerald Drive, Joliet, have accused the company of a racially hostile work environment. (WTTW News)

Late last month, 26 current and former employees of a Joliet Amazon warehouse accused the company of allowing a racially hostile work environment. They’ve since been joined by a dozen more workers, who’ve filed charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. 

‘Our Service is Not Meeting our High Expectations,’ CTA President Outlines Plan to Address Schedule Snafus, Safety Worries

This file photo shows a southbound CTA Red Line train in Chicago. (WTTW News)

CTA President Dorval Carter on Thursday outlined a strategic plan to overhaul the transit agency’s service and bolster its role in the Chicago area’s transportation network. The CTA’s new “Meeting the Moment” initiative is aimed at moving the much-used and much-critiqued transit service into a “post-pandemic” future.

Freight Rail Merger Won’t Have Significant Environmental Impact, Federal Agency Says

(WTTW News)

The proposed merger of freight rail giants Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern – which has faced a swell of opposition – wouldn’t have major environmental consequences, according to a draft environmental impact statement released Friday by the Surface Transportation Board.

Sixth Chicago-Area Starbucks Votes to Unionize, Joining More than 200 Across US

(WTTW News)

The coffee shop, located at Lincoln and Jersey avenues on the border of North Park and West Ridge, is located in the Lincoln Village shopping center. It’s now the sixth Chicago-area Starbucks to vote for unionization – and among more than 200 around the nation to unionize so far.

Joliet Amazon Workers Allege Racist Death Threats, Hostile Work Environment in Federal Complaint

File photo. (WTTW News)

Current and former employees at an Amazon warehouse in Joliet say the mega-retailer has allowed a racially hostile work environment, including death threats against Black employees and workers who are allowed to wear Confederate flag clothing, according to a complaint filed with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Illinois Department of Human Rights.

Surveillance, Threats and Retaliation: Local Starbucks Workers Charge Company With Slew of Labor Law Violations

(WTTW News)

Claims against Starbucks include unfairly disciplining employees who backed organizing efforts, threatening retaliation against pro-union workers and forbidding staffers from discussing terms and conditions of their employment.

‘Chicago Tonight’ in Your Neighborhood: Pullman and West Pullman

(WTTW News)

Chicago’s Pullman and West Pullman areas were once industrial communities where workers lived and worked. The neighborhoods on the Far South Side have since experienced an economic downfall, but over the years people have pushed for growth to improve the quality of life. 

After Highland Park Shooting, a Look at Local Gun Laws and Firearms Access

(WTTW News)

Just under a month ago, the Highland Park chapter of March for our Lives organized an anti-gun violence rally at Sunset Woods Park – the same location of a Thursday candlelight vigil – following mass shootings in Uvalde, Buffalo, and Tulsa among others. Attendees then marched through Highland Park, including right through the site of this past weekend’s shooting.

City Announces Plan to Upgrade All Protected Bike Lanes to Concrete Amid Outcry Over Cyclist and Pedestrian Deaths

(WTTW News)

The city plans to upgrade 15 miles of existing protected bike lanes and add 10 new miles by the end of this year, and upgrade the remaining existing lanes protected by bollards or other means by the end of next year.

Rodney Davis Concedes to Trump-Backed Fellow GOP Incumbent Mary Miller in 15th District

U.S. Rep. Mary Miller. (Credit: Miller Campaign)

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis conceded to first-term Republican Mary Miller in the hotly contested GOP race in the 15th Congressional district, saying it’s been “the honor of a lifetime to serve the people of Illinois.”

U.S. Rep. Danny Davis Wins Over Challenger Kina Collins in 7th Congressional District: AP

(WTTW News)

U.S. Rep. Danny Davis was first elected to represent the district in 1996 and recently secured the endorsement of President Joe Biden. He’s highlighted the work he’s done in Congress to bring home resources for his constituents, but faced criticism by Kina Collins and some of her backers for missed votes and a lengthy tenure.

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.