Correspondent, Chicago
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Sep 10, 2012

Chicago teachers still negotiating hours from strike deadline

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Chicago teachers and officials of the nation’s third-largest school district were locked in negotiations with just hours to go before a midnight deadline for a strike over Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s demand for sweeping school reforms.

The Chicago Teachers Union scheduled a 10 p.m. local time news conference to give an update on the bitter and protracted talks but gave no hint if a deal was close.

Sep 7, 2012

Chicago braces for first teacher strike in a generation

CHICAGO (Reuters) – A bitter dispute between unionized public school teachers and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has residents of the third-largest U.S. city bracing for a possible strike on Monday in a showdown over education reform that has national implications.

Nearly 30,000 public school teachers and support staff represented by the Chicago Teachers Union have vowed to walk off the job starting at 12:01 a.m. on Monday if an impasse in contract talks with the city is not broken.

Jul 31, 2012

Teacher union boss bends to school reform winds

DETROIT (Reuters) – In the maelstrom of criticism surrounding America’s unionized public teachers, the woman running the second-largest educator union says time has come to collaborate on public school reform rather than resist.

Randi Weingarten, re-elected this week for a third term as president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) with 98 percent of the vote, wants her 1.5 million members to be open to changes that might improve public schools.

Jul 31, 2012

U.S. teacher union boss bends to school reform winds

DETROIT, July 31 (Reuters) – In the maelstrom of criticism
surrounding America’s unionized public teachers, the woman
running the second-largest educator union says time has come to
collaborate on public school reform rather than resist.

Randi Weingarten, re-elected this week for a third term as
president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) with 98
percent of the vote, wants her 1.5 million members to be open
to changes that might improve public schools.

Jul 29, 2012

In Michigan, a ballot measure to enshrine union rights

DETROIT (Reuters) – After suffering a string of political setbacks in the industrial heartland, organized labor hopes Michigan voters will help turn the tide in a November election by supporting a state constitutional amendment for the right to unionize.

The union-backed ballot proposal would make collective bargaining a constitutionally protected right and cripple efforts to pass so-called “right to work” legislation in the state. Critics say the measure, which would cover private as well as public employees, would be a “death warrant” for Michigan’s economy because it would discourage businesses from bringing new jobs to Michigan and encourage some already in the state to leave.

Jul 27, 2012

Teachers meet as fiscal, policy pressures mount

DETROIT (Reuters) – As representatives of America’s second-largest teachers union gather in Detroit for the start of a four-day convention, the stark prospects facing their 1.5 million members are right here in front of them.

In June, an official appointed by the state of Michigan imposed sweeping wage and benefit cuts on Detroit educators represented by the American Federation of Teachers as the debt-heavy, tax-deficient city struggles to maintain basic services.

Jul 20, 2012

Police say they believe missing Iowa cousins were abducted

By James B. Kelleher

(Reuters) – Authorities in Iowa searching for two young cousins who disappeared last week said on Friday they were now treating the case as an abduction after an FBI dive team determined the girls’ remains were not in a lake near where they were last seen.

Elizabeth Collins, 8, and Lyric Cook, 10, disappeared around noon last Friday shortly after they left their grandmother’s house near Evansdale in northeast Iowa.

Jul 20, 2012

Illinois panel votes to expel indicted lawmaker from legislature

CHICAGO (Reuters) – A lawmaker from Chicago who has been indicted for bribery but has refused to resign his seat should be expelled from the Illinois Legislature, a special investigative panel recommended on Thursday.

State House Representative Derrick Smith was arrested in March and charged with accepting a $7,000 bribe in exchange for endorsing a daycare center’s state grant application.

Jul 17, 2012

U.S.-Canada bridge reopens after bomb threat

By James B. Kelleher

(Reuters) – The Ambassador Bridge, a busy international border crossing linking Windsor, Ontario, with Detroit, was closed for five hours on Monday following a bomb threat.

But investigators using bomb-sniffing dogs found nothing suspicious and the span reopened to traffic early Tuesday morning, authorities on both sides of the border said.

Jul 3, 2012

Judge allows two counties to defend Illinois anti-gay marriage law

CHICAGO (Reuters) – A judge ruled on Tuesday that two Illinois counties could defend a state law banning same-sex marriage in a court battle that supporters of gay marriage hope will lead to an Illinois court overturning the law and legalizing gay nuptials.

In 1996 Illinois, like many other states, passed a law that said marriage is only between a man and a woman.