It's Back to School Season . . . Troublemakers School!

By Kerry Luckett

Our nation is at war!  A labor war!

On every front, working people face obstacles—if it’s not high health insurance costs, it’s reduced staffing with larger workloads.  If it’s not low wages, it’s reduced safety regulations and workplace resources.  Yet workers, in all industries, fields, and occupations, are the ones holding up this house, with very little support themselves.

That’s why it’s time for all of us workers to go back to school and strategize our tactics on various labor fronts.

Last Saturday, August 24th, at CTU’s meeting hall, I co-facilitated the Contract Campaigns from the Bottom Up workshop for Labor Notes’ Troublemakers School.  Representing Cook County College Teachers Union Local 1600, I engaged in a vibrant discussion of contract campaigns with three facilitating partners and a large room of sisters and brothers from various unions.  We held an open conversation about how to successfully contract campaign for unionized workers.

Among the facilitators was Linda Perales of Chicago Teachers Union, anticipating a possible strike this September, Dave Bert of Teamsters Local 705, who fought for UPS’s contract wins, and Erin O’Callaghan of UIC Graduate Employees Organization, coming off the heels of their March contract victory.  We each shared our contract campaign stories and, together, answered audience questions, addressed union concerns, and provided strategies to organize around those concerns. 

In our sharing of and learning from each other’s struggles, we came away with a succinct, clear model:

  1. Get your house in order: In other words, bring your union members together, lay out the issues, start a commitment/recommitment campaign.  You need the numbers!

  2. Meet with the bosses: Nothing happens without talking with the bosses, the rich people in charge of our work.  It helps to gauge how they respond to your demands.

  3. Lather, rinse, repeat: As you move through this process, there will be tension and harangues, but you will be in a better position to bargain on behalf of your union.

  4. Gather all your data and use them: Information is king…or queen.  You cannot fight without facts on your side; use those facts to teach and inform fellow members and all media outlets.  Get your people and all allies involved.

Should negotiations reach a head and communication cease, as it did the case of my union, then your union is on its way towards a strike authorization vote.  Striking (or at least threatening to) puts pressure on your bosses to take your demands seriously and even concede to them.  After all, can they run their operations without all of you?  If so, for how long?

We talked about all of these matters that Saturday, but I noticed something new in the Labor Movement.  More and more young people are joining the Movement.  That means more seasoned generations are needed to pass down their wisdom and keep the momentum up.  And as a younger workforce attempts to organize unorganized labor, I am invigorated to keep fighting for all workers to have the equity we deserve. 

Happy Labor Day!

In Solidarity Forever!


Aldermanic letter to Mayor Lightfoot: "We intend to keep our promises to our communities."

The following memo was released to the public on August 28, 2019. Check out press coverage here and here.

To: Mayor Lori Lightfoot

From: Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza, Ald. Maria Hadden, Ald. Daniel LaSpata, Ald. Matt Martin, Ald. Carlos Ramirez Rosa, Ald. Mike Rodriguez, Ald. Rossana Rodriguez Sanchez, Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez, Ald. Jeanette Taylor, Ald. Andre Vasquez

Re: A 2020 #BudgetForTheMany

Like you, we ran on a bold vision of putting working families first. Now, it’s time to make good on that promise. The 2020 budget is our chance to begin building a city that provides for the many, not just the wealthy few.

We all ran on the promise of a city where Black, Brown, and working families can thrive. One where residents can afford to stay in their communities, have access to healthcare and quality schools, and feel safe. Like you, we know how desperately important it is to get this budget right in order to fulfill these promises to Chicago.

For too long, public dollars have been funneled to downtown developers while working-class families of color have been starved of resources. For too long, Chicago has overpoliced communities of color, spending hundreds of millions of public dollars on cop academies and defending violent officers at the expense of root cause solutions. For too long, elected officials have passed one austerity budget after another, asking Black, Brown, and working people to pay ever increasing regressive taxes, fines, and fees while suffering continued service cuts.

Budgets are about priorities and choices. We will not ask poor and working people to continue to carry the lion’s share of the burden in place of those who profit from their low wages, evictions, and crumbling schools. We understand the seriousness of the projected budget shortfall and we are prepared to dig in and work hard to find solutions. We need to work together to prioritize working people--not wealthy developers. If there is money for Lincoln Yards and Cop Academies, then there is money for affordable housing, public mental health clinics, pensions, fully-funded schools, youth programs and jobs.

As we head into negotiations over the 2020 budget, we intend to keep our promises to our communities. We are committed to fighting for a budget that divests from failed policing and gentrifying developers, invests in communities and neighborhoods, and requires the wealthy and big corporations to pay their fair share. As organizers, we will fight alongside, and seek real community input from the people who have been leading this fight to reimagine Chicago for decades.

We are hopeful that together, we will make good on what we promised the people of Chicago, and put forth a budget that finally gets our priorities straight.

Meet Kennedy!

We are thrilled to welcome UWF Member Kennedy Bartley to the UWF staff as our new Legislative Coordinator! Kennedy will be working with UWF elected officials to ensure that they have the support they need to govern for the many.

Get to know Kennedy in her own words below:

I credit a few standout experiences in my life as being the politicizing moments that, in culmination, led to who I am and what I fight for today—the incarceration of my father, transferring from Loyola Academy to my neighborhood public school where the U.S. military had its own office, the murder of my 14 year old cousin, and the murders of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, and Eric Garner. These moments made clear to me that every decision I was to make subsequently, would fully be in honor of their affects on me.

While at DePaul University, I studied Public Policy, African Diaspora Studies, and Geographic Information Systems. During this time, I facilitated restorative justice classes in CPS for 3 years and organized in the wake of the murders of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and the heightened police violence and crimes by CPD. Despite my distrust of electoral politics at the time, I recognized the power that taking up that space provided for myself and working class, Black, and Brown folks. I spent my final year working in Alderman Pawar’s office and doing independent studies on the Criminalization of Mental Health, and on School Choice in the Englewood and West Englewood community areas.

A few months post-grad, I began interning with SEIU Local 1 and shortly thereafter became a full-time Strategic Researcher. While at Local 1, I developed tactical campaign strategies to fight for worker justice and comprehensive corporate reform. I was elected to the Local’s Black Caucus Executive Board and sat on the Racial Justice and Environmental Justice committees—working to illustrate the importance of the intersections of economic, racial, and environmental justice for working class people. During this time I struggled to remain hopeful that a space existed for a young, Black woman with politics that truly centered the “least of these”. Luckily at this time, I began meeting with Stacy Davis Gates who introduced me to United Working Families, the organization that immediately felt like a political home. UWF recognizes that there are many ways to liberate and lift up Black, Brown, and working class communities, and operates within the political sphere, centering these communities; UWF takes power to give power, a place that is truly #ForTheMany.

I also feel it necessary to credit my mother, step-father, and maternal grandparents who taught me the importance of compassion and resilience that I hope to bring to this role!

Kennedy (left), protesting the police murder of Eric Garner in downtown Chicago.

Kennedy (left), protesting the police murder of Eric Garner in downtown Chicago.

Resolution on an Anti-Austerity Budget for the People (Adopted and Amended at the August 21, 2019 General Membership Meeting)

United Working Families Resolution on Adopting an Anti-Austerity Budget for the People

Adopted at the August 21, 2019 General Membership Meeting


Guided by: Our vision for a city and a state that provides for the many, not just the wealthy few.

Recognizing, Chicago is displacing and overpolicing Black and Brown families and communities, women, the LGBTQ+ community, and starving the city’s working people of the resources they need to live and thrive. Black, Brown and working families overpay through discriminatory use of fines, fees, and property taxes while corporate developers receive massive handouts for projects that displace residents. While we fight for police accountability and true sanctuary, we must also fight for the resources and funding for what actually makes us safe: including public education, public transit, pensions, mental health care, and affordable housing. 

 Recognizing, The Mayor has said there is a projected $1 billion budget shortfall and that we should brace ourselves for tax increases borne by Chicago’s already overtaxed and under resourced working families. 

Whereas, We reject this false choice - we know there is enough money to pay for what our families and communities need. Governments and institutions are making a CHOICE to prioritize the greed of corporations and developers over the needs of Chicago citizens. When the city gives money to the rich through tax breaks, TIFs and funneling money downtown, it is taking money directly out of the pockets of working families and Black and Brown communities. Politicians have done decades of harm and violence to Black and Brown families, through forced segregation, redlining, police killings, and starving neighborhoods of basic resources. The time has come to pay back what is owed.

Therefore, The time has come for Black, Brown and working class people of Chicago to become the number one budget priority. We demand and are ready to fight for a city budget that fully funds schools, pensions, programs and services that are vital to families and communities. We demand the city STOP giving billions of dollars to police and developers and START requiring the wealthy to pay their fair share. We commit to fighting for reparations for our communities and demand a budget that divests from police and developers, invests in communities and neighborhoods, and fund the resources we need by requiring the wealthy to pay their fair share. We require a budget that solicits and implements public feedback from communities most impacted by a history of austerity budgets. 

Resolution on Striking Workers (Amended and Adopted at the August 21, 2019 General Membership Meeting)

United Working Families Resolution on Striking Workers

Adopted at the August 21, 2019 General Membership Meeting


Guided by: Our vision for a city and a state that provides for the many, not just the wealthy few.

Recognizing: that the working people of Chicago are under attack from a system of social and economic exploitation.

Recognizing that a pathway to economic freedom is by workers striking. Many workers, including teachers, paraprofessionals, park district employees, nursing home, hospital, homecare, childcare and hotel workers are primarily women of color and striking is a tool for women to maintain financial independence. 

Recognizing that taking action in solidarity with striking workers will improve the lives of the workers and their families and continue to push for what is politically possible for everyone. 

Whereas, We adopt the following strategy to guide our political and organizing work over the course of this fall where unions may strike to improve working and living conditions for workers. 

  1. STRONG UNION CONTRACTS IMPROVES QUALITY OF LIFE FOR WORKERS: For years, we have fought statewide and federal battles to keep collective bargaining rights for workers. There are direct correlations between strong unions and a higher quality of life. 

  2. UNION POWER CAN WIN DEMANDS FOR THE WHOLE COMMUNITY: Bosses for years have advocated for contracts to only be about pay and benefits but we know through organizing, our community can gain much more (ie. affordable housing, sanctuary, etc). 

Therefore, upon a strike authorization vote by union membership, we commit to taking action in solidarity with striking workers on the picket line, as they fight for a fair contract that improves the quality of life for their families and the entire community, and we will provide guidelines for sympathizers to offer support.

Guest Post by Kerry Luckett: Welcome NALC Branch 11!

The National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 11 recently affiliated with UWF. Below is an interview between Party Committee member Kerry Luckett and Mack I. Julion, President of Branch 11 and NALC Trustee.

Mack I. Julion, President of Branch 11 and NALC Trustee, represents over 5,000 union members in Branch 11, which encompasses active and retired Letter Carriers within Cook County.  Branch 11 recently joined the UWF family.  The following is a brief interview with Mr. Julion.

1. How was Branch 11 formed under the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) and AFL-CIO, and what is its historical significance in Chicagoland and across the nation?

NALC was established in 1889, and Branch 11 was founded in 1891.  The number comes from the tag number—“branch number 11”—which is the order in which the local office was founded.  NALC has 280,000 members; it’s the largest of the four Postal unions (APWU, American Postal Workers Union is the second largest).  Branch 11, with two national officers, is the fifth largest office of NALC.  NALC and Branch 11 is one of the earliest unions to become part of the bedrock in the labor movement. 

 2. What are your most recent labor and political battles and their outcomes? 

For us, it seems as if we’re always battling.  Washington is intent on privatizing postal service, and the Union protects on every front, ensuring adequate, safe work conditions and that workers maintain a middle-class income.  That means battles with management who sometimes do not have the best interest of the Postal Service—concerning the lack of resources and low staffing that cause “bad service.” So, we make customers aware of carriers’ long hours with fewer days off and other issues that affect their services.  This takes up most of my time—and I’m still battling.


 3. What is your vision for Branch 11’s future, and how will it operate under the new mayor and governor?

When I first started, we were not active and collaborations with APWU were limited.  My goal is to prepare the next generation, mentoring and pulling in the younger members, to take over and leave it better than I found it.  We are all still working of  on labor issues left over from the Rauner and Emanuel administrations and the Janus ruling.  We will hold newly elected Democrats accountable; we have laid good foundation for relationships with Mayor Lightfoot and Governor Pritzker, making sure promises are kept and members and their families are not left out.


4. Branch 11 recently affiliated with United Working Families. What are Branch 11’s goals as an affiliate organization?

Affiliating with UWF will further support our brothers and sisters in the labor movement. We can use more members and participation, work on inclusion in the trades, and grow more black and brown laborers and trade workers.  New hires are 80% female, 85% African American in Chicago, and 25% African American nationwide.  It’s important for African Americans to come together as a strong voice for working families.



Mack I. Julion, President of Branch 11 and NALC Trustee, represents over 5,000 active and retired Letter Carriers within Cook County.

Mack I. Julion, President of Branch 11 and NALC Trustee, represents over 5,000 active and retired Letter Carriers within Cook County.

What you can do about Trump's ICE raids

****List of canvasses, trainings, and other community defense actions is in development. Check back here for updates!****

Donald Trump is threatening undocumented families with massive raids and deportations. At least seven children have died in concentration camps on the border under his watch.

We're organizing and fighting back. Here's how you can help:

1. Join a Know Your Rights training or community defense network.

UWF members are organizing and attending trainings, town hall meetings, and other community defense responses (see examples from this past weekend here). Here are a few upcoming dates:

Taller de Defensa En Respuesta a Redadas de Trump
Tuesday, June 25

6-8 pm @ Solorio High School, 5400 S. Saint Louis Ave

Facebook event

Know Your Rights Training (w/Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza)

Every Tuesday, June 25-July 30

6 pm @ Centro de Trabajadores Unidos, 10638 S. Ewing Ave


Let's Protect Ourselves (w/Ald. Rossana Rodriguez)

Wednesday, June 26

6 pm @ 4541 N Spaulding Ave


Know Your Rights Canvassing (w/Comm. Alma Anaya)

Wednesday, June 26

Saturday, June 29

Email Commissioner Anaya for details

Town Hall Meeting and Know Your Rights Training (w/Rep. Aaron Ortiz)

Thursday, June 27 - 6:30 pm @ Gage Park Fieldhouse, 2411 W 55th St.

Friday, June 28 - 6:30 pm @ Vittum Park, 5010 W 50th St.

Facebook event

Know Your Rights Training (w/Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez)

Friday, June 28

Email Zoe Chan for details

Traffic Stop Clinic (w/Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez)

Saturday, June 29

Email Zoe Chan for details

We'll be posting more on our Facebook page as we get more information--check back frequently.

2. Sign on to support ordinances to shut down the Chicago gang database and strengthen Chicago's Welcoming City Ordinance.

Chicago police can arrest or detain immigrants based solely on their immigration status if they are one of the 130,000 people named in the city’s unjust and inaccurate gang database, or if they have an outstanding warrant or a previous felony conviction. We support the Immigration Working Group's (is this right organization name?) campaigns to remove these allowances and to shut down the gang database once and for all.

Sign our petition to Mayor Lori Lightfoot asking her to work to immediately pass ordinances to strengthen the Welcoming City Ordinance and shut down the gang database.

3. Call the hotline at 1-855-435-7693 if you see suspected ICE activity.

Avoid spreading rumors, confusion, and fear. If you see any ICE activity or know someone who has been detained by immigration in the Chicagoland area, call 1-855-435-7693. The following graphics can be shared on social media to help spread the word.


Our 100 Day Plan to Reimagine Chicago

To: Mayor-Elect Lori Lightfoot and Chicago City Council

From (list in formation): Aldermen-Elect Maria Hadden (49), Daniel LaSpata (1), Matt Martin (47), Carlos Ramirez Rosa (35), Mike Rodriguez (22), Rossana Rodriguez Sanchez (33), Susan Sadlowski Garza (10), Byron Sigcho Lopez (25), Jeanette Taylor (20), and Andre Vasquez (40)

Re: Our 100-Day Agenda to Reimagine Chicago

For the past eight years, the political status quo enriched tech investors, Wall Street financiers, and real estate moguls while Black and Latinx Ch100 icagoans lost their jobs, their homes, and their lives. Like you, we campaigned on a platform to break with this tragic history and make Chicago a city for the many--not just the wealthiest few.

With inauguration fast approaching, we look forward to working with you to reimagine Chicago as a city where working families and communities of color can thrive. As the incoming bloc of progressive aldermen-elect, we are ready to get to work to pass the following legislation within the first 100 days.

  1. Restore public housing with the Homes for All Ordinance. The Homes for All Ordinance will require that all public housing units are preserved on a one-for-one apartment basis in any future redevelopment of public housing, and that family-sized units are produced by the CHA as it rebuilds.  The Homes for All Ordinance protects public housing land for public housing purposes, and integrates at least 20% of future public housing construction into high-wealth, high-opportunity neighborhoods.

  2. Build affordable family housing with the Development for All Ordinance. Current loopholes in the existing Affordable Requirements Ordinance (ARO) have completely undermined the production of affordable housing, especially in gentrifying areas. The Development for All ordinance eliminates these loopholes, including ending “in lieu of fees” that developers pay to avoid building affordable units, ending the “off-siting” of affordable construction in lower-income neighborhoods, and mandating the production of family-sized (e.g. 3 bedroom) units. Developers who need upzoning approval from the city will be required to set aside at least 30% of new construction for affordable units.

  3. Fight homelessness with Bring Chicago Home. 80,000 Chicagoans experience homelessness, including military veterans, survivors of domestic abuse, and 18,000 CPS students. Bring Chicago Home would place a question on the ballot asking voters to approve a 1.2-point tax increase on real estate transactions worth more than $1 million--enough to generate $100-150 million annually for housing and services to address homelessness.

  4. Fund Chicago Public Schools with TIF Surplus Reform. Recent years have seen Tax Increment Financing, initially intended to spur economic development in poor neighborhoods, used instead as a slush fund for mega-developers like Sterling Bay and Related Midwest. This ordinance would require the city to send the available TIF surplus back to Chicago Public Schools on a yearly basis for as long as the school district is in financial distress.

  5. Pay low-wage workers more with a $15 minimum wage by 2021. This ordinance will raise the minimum wage to $15 by the year 2021. The ordinance will apply to public sector, private sector, and tipped workers.

  6. Stop south side displacement with a Community Benefits Agreement Ordinance for the Obama Presidential Center. The Obama Center CBA ordinance will preserve existing affordable housing, provide additional affordable housing options, and prevent displacement of long-term residents from the area surrounding the Obama Presidential Center. Specifically, the ordinance will require developers to set aside 30% of new units for households earning less than half of the average median income and establish a community trust fund to assist long-term residents with property tax relief, affordable housing development, rental assistance, and workforce development. In February, voters in four precincts near the future Obama center overwhelmingly supported these proposals.

  7. Curtail racial profiling with amendments to the Welcoming City Ordinance. Chicago police can arrest or detain immigrants based solely on their immigration status if they are one of the 130,000 people named in the city’s unjust and inaccurate gang database, or if they have an outstanding warrant or a previous felony conviction. The Welcoming City ordinance would remove these allowances and protect people of color from harassment, racial profiling, and deportation by Chicago police.

Many of these ordinances languished under Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his downtown-driven corporate agenda. But it’s a new day in Chicago. We are committed to working with the bold grassroots and labor organizations driving these fights, as well as our new colleagues and Mayor in City Hall, to pass these ordinances in the first 100 days and begin making a city for the many a reality.

STATEMENT: Incoming aldermen stand with #RejecttheMegaTIFs Campaign


April 6, 2019

STATEMENT: Incoming progressive aldermen stand with #RejecttheMegaTIFs Campaign

Eight incoming aldermen call on Pat O'Connor to cancel Monday vote on Lincoln Yards TIF giveaway

CHICAGO--With City Council preparing to vote next week on over $2 billion in tax giveaways to Lincoln Yards and the 78, eight incoming aldermen-elect today released a statement calling on Finance Committee Chair Pat O'Connor to cancel the Monday committee vote required to advance the MegaTIFs.

The aldermen-elect releasing the statement today are: Daniel LaSpata (1), Jeanette Taylor (20), Michael D. Rodriguez (22), Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25), Rossana Rodriguez (33), Andre Vasquez (40), Matt Martin (47), and Maria Hadden (49).

"As an incoming bloc of aldermen-elect, we have spent the last year talking to Chicagoans from across the city. The message we've heard on the doors is crystal clear: it's time for a City Council that is fighting for the many, not the wealthiest few.

"This week, Rahm Emanuel and his lame duck allies are trying to push through a set of unpopular and unjust measures: $2.4 billion in taxpayer money for luxury developments at Lincoln Yards and the 78, and converting a south side high school into another cop academy. The money for the megaTIFs should be returned to the public with investments in neighborhood schools, clean drinking water, public libraries, and re-opening mental health clinics. 

"We were elected to serve the working families of Chicago--not luxury real-estate developers and private military contractors. Enough is enough. City Council should say NO to Mayor Emanuel's final efforts to enrich his donors at the expense of poor and working people, and cancel these votes until the new Mayor and City Council take office."


STATEMENT: Chicago Belongs to the People

STATEMENT: Chicago Voters Reject Emanuel's Legacy and Chart a New Direction for City Council

United Working Families Slate Victories the Culmination of Years of People-Powered Organizing

CHICAGO- Following is the statement of Emma Tai, Executive Director of United Working Families (UWF), on tonight’s UWF victories:

"Chicago belongs to the people. Tonight, voters rejected Rahm Emanuel's legacy of crumbling schools, skyrocketing violence and gentrification, and crushing inequality. Years of work by the women of color at the helm of United Working Families made this sea change possible. We're building a progressive, multi-racial alternative to the Democratic machine. Tonight's victories are the biggest expression yet of our power, and we're just getting started."


United Working Families is an independent political organization that recruits, trains, and elects progressive champions from the ranks of grassroots struggle. In 2015, UWF ran a slate of challengers that ousted machine incumbents on the City Council; the 2018 primary victories of UWF candidates Alma Anaya, Aaron Ortiz, Brandon Johnson, and Delia Ramirez further built a bench of campaigners and organizers of color who were ready for 2019.

This election cycle, UWF was the first citywide organization to endorse Jeanette Taylor in 20 and Rossana Rodriguez in 33 along with February victors Maria Hadden (49) and Mike Rodriguez (22). UWF staff and leadership managed Jeanette, Rossana, and Rafa Yanez's runoff campaigns, knocking on over 500,000 doors and sending over 230,000 texts to voters since September. Our video lifting up the voices of young Black activists from the struggle against police violence reached over 80,000 Chicagoans in the final weekend alone.







Illinois State Legislative Update

We've got just two weeks until we elect an amazing slate of Chicago leaders who come from the rank and file of our movements. Read more about them here and sign up for our GOTV training here.

At the Illinois State Capitol, legislation is moving quickly and we want you to be a part of supporting some important bills:

Rent Control. UWF is a proud member of the Lift The Ban coalition, which is advancing two bills in the Illinois general assembly. One would lift the statewide ban on rent control and the other would make rent control the law of the land. With more and more working people priced out of housing, we need #RentControlNow. Click here to tell your lawmakers you support bringing rent control to Illinois.

Safe Nurse to Patient Ratios. UWF affiliate Illinois Nurses Association is fighting for the Safe Patient Limits Act, which will ensure that acute care nurses have a workload that they can safely care for and deter hospitals from providing their staff with unsafe patient ratios. Click here to tell your lawmaker you support the Safe Patient Limits Act.

Fight for $15. SB1 will raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2025, and UWF State Representatives Celina Villanueva and Delia Ramirez spoke powerfully in support of the bill--an important reminder of why electing movement candidates matters. Watch Celina's remarks here.

Why we need a new Chicago City Council

Today, over 30 Chicago aldermen voted to put hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars towards luxury real estate developments on the north side and a militarized police force on the west side.

These are the same public officials who have,implicitly or explicitly, supported Mayor Rahm Emanuel's repeated claims that there was no money in Chicago to keep Black schools open, provide child care to thousands of working families, or invest in public jobs and mental health services to reduce violence.

Read our full statement on Lincoln Yards and No Cop Academy here.

Today's mobilization was led by Black and Latinx youth activists from No Cop Academy. They are leading the way. ➡️ Click here to support their work.

In 2019, UWF endorsed three incumbents who today stood up to Rahm Emanuel and voted against the Wall Street financiers, luxury real estate developers, and military contractors who are driving working-class people of color out of our city: Sue Sadlowski Garza, Carlos Ramirez Rosa, and John Arena.

In April, we will grow their ranks with candidates like Rossana Rodriguez, Jeanette Taylor, Byron Sigcho Lopez, and Rafa Yanez, who showed up at City Hall today to show  their support.

But we need your help! Register today for our first-ever Get Out the Vote member training, where you'll learn how to make the most of GOTV weekend and schedule your volunteer shift to help elect our slate.

The scene today at City Hall--hundreds of Black and Latinx activists locked out of council chambers so that Rahm Emanuel and his rubber-stamp aldermen could do the bidding of the corporate elites who want to remake our city--shows more than ever why we need to wrest governing power from their hands, and return it to the people. That's what we're here to do.

We will remember the names of those who voted yes today, and we will be back in 2023.

Announcing our runoff endorsements!

I'm so proud to announce that the United Working Families Party Committee has made two additional endorsements for the April 2 runoff election: Byron Sigcho-Lopez for 25th Ward Alderman and Andre Vasquez for 40th Ward Alderman.

Byron Sigcho-Lopez is a founding member of UWF affiliate 25th Ward Independent Political Organization and the former director of Pilsen Alliance, where he has led Black and Latinx coalitions in fights against school closings and gentrification. Andre Vasquez, a lifelong Chicagoan and the son of immigrants, is challenging a 35-year incumbent who was part of the racist white voting bloc on City Council that fought Harold Washington, Chicago's first Black mayor.

Byron and Andre join the UWF slate of progressive challengers who are ready to fight for a Chicago #ForTheMany, not the wealthiest few:

  • Rafael Yañez (15th Ward), a southwest side community leader who has provided violence prevention services to thousands of young people and a vocal opponent of the proposed police academy.

  • Jeanette Taylor (20th Ward), who led the month-long hunger strike to save Dyett high school and who was recruited to run by the organizers fighting for a Community Benefits Agreement for the Obama Center coming to Woodlawn.

  • Rossana Rodríguez (33rd Ward), an arts educator and affordable housing activist who was recruited to run by UWF affiliate 33rd Ward Working Families, which formed after the 2015 elections.

  • Matt Martin (47th Ward), a civil rights attorney who worked on police reform and fought against Trump’s immigration policies at the Attorney General's office.

Our member organizing and fundraising committees are busy mobilizing to make sure our slate has the people power they need to win on April 2. Join us! Sign up to volunteeror make a donation here.

United Working Families 2019 Runoff Slate (1).png

STATEMENT: We're fighting #ForTheMany, and we are winning.


February 26, 2019

STATEMENT: Tonight’s Results will Remake Chicago, City Hall for Generations

CHICAGO- Following is the statement of Emma Tai, Executive Director of United Working Families (UWF), on tonight’s UWF victories:

“Today, voters came out in force for the United Working Families slate of progressive activists running to win a Chicago for the many, and not just the wealthiest few. With 80% of precincts reporting, seven out of eight early-endorsed UWF candidates won or advanced to a runoff tonight.

“From Maria Hadden, the queer Black activist who defeated Rahm Emanuel lackey Joe Moore in Rogers Park, to Jeanette B. Taylor, the Dyett hunger striker who just ended a corrupt party boss's career, tonight’s results are a rejection of Chicago politics as usual.

“These victories were years in the making, and will remake Chicago for years to come. They were seeded by the risks we took in 2015, when UWF forced the most powerful mayor in the country into a runoff and challenged entrenched incumbents across the city. And they were powered by the independent political organizations that grew out of those efforts—organizations like 33rd Ward Working Families, the UWF affiliate that forced the Mell family dynasty into a runoff tonight.

“The most powerful Democratic fundraiser in the country, Rahm Emanuel, will not be mayor again. The Cook County gang database has been shut down. Candidates are rejecting campaign contributions from luxury real-estate developers and calling for free child care and college for all. 2020 Presidential hopefuls, take note: we are remaking the political landscape of our city and country. We are fighting for a city and a country for the many—not the wealthiest few. And we are winning.”


United Working Families is an independent political organization by and for the 99%. UWF affiliate members include: Action Now, Chicago Teachers Union, Cook County College Teachers Union, Grassroots Illinois Action, SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana, Warehouse Workers Organizing Committee, People United for Action, Workers United CMRJB, 22nd Ward IPO, 25th Ward IPO, and 33rd Ward Working Families.

As of this writing, UWF candidates who were positioned to win and/or make the runoff are as follows.

Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza, 10th Ward (victory)

Rafael Yanez, 15th Ward (runoff)

Jeanette B. Taylor, 20th Ward (runoff)

Michael D. Rodriguez, 22nd Ward (victory)

Rossana Rodriguez Sanchez, 33rd Ward (runoff)

Ald. Carlos Ramirez Rosa, 35th Ward (victory)

Matt Martin, 47th Ward (runoff)

Maria Hadden, 49th Ward (victory)

Watch the video of our early-endorsed slate here.

Guest Post from Alma Anaya and Brandon Johnson: We just shut down the gang database.

This week, Cook County became the first county in the nation to shut down its gang database--a tool that has long been used to criminalize low-income communities of color.

Working with bold organizations like Organized Communities Against Deportation (OCAD) and the Brighton Park Neighborhood Council from the Erase the Database campaign, we led the charge to not only take the database offline but to set up guidelines for the destruction of its contents. Cook County will be first county in the country to hold public hearings on the long-term impact of the database: how people were placed on it, how law enforcement used it, and how to ensure that Cook County data is not used by other agencies in the future.

As part of the United Working Families Elected Official Chapter, we'll be sharing our experiences with our sisters and brothers on City Council and in the state legislature to advance a united front in the fight against policies that starve Black and Latinx communities of the opportunity to thrive.

Please join us in sharing the press coverage of this victory on Facebook and Twitter, and in thanking the fierce organizations whose leadership made this possible:

Action Now, AFSC Chicago, Arab American Action Network, Asian Americans Advancing Justice Chicago, Autonomous Tenants Union, Black Lives Matter: Chicago, Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, Centro de Trabajadores Unidos, Chicago Community and Workers' Rights, Chicago Community Bond Fund, Chicago Teachers Union, Enlace Chicago, Grassroots Collaborative, HANA Center, Health & Medicine Policy Research Group, ICIRR, Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, Latino Union of Chicago, National Immigrant Justice Center, OCAD, PASO, SEIU Healthcare Illinois and Indiana, and SOUL.

In Solidarity,

Cook County Commissioner Alma Anaya (Chief Sponsor, Cook County Ordinance #19-0687)

Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson

Commissioner Alma Anaya speaking at a press conference to #ErasetheDatabase. Commissioner Anaya introduced the ordinance to stop the gang database in her first month in office. Picture from the Chicago Sun-Times.

Commissioner Alma Anaya speaking at a press conference to #ErasetheDatabase. Commissioner Anaya introduced the ordinance to stop the gang database in her first month in office. Picture from the Chicago Sun-Times.

P.S. As elected officials who come from the rank-and-file of organizations like OCAD and the Chicago Teachers Union, we're committed to building the bench of candidates, campaigners, and organizers who come from social movements. Join us! Consider making a $10, $25, or $50 donation to sponsor a UWF Movement Leader Fellow in the 2019 elections.

Guest Post from Emma Tai: Honoring Dr. King

"Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals." - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This week, I had a conversation with a UWF member named Anna Green. Anna is a member of SEIU Healthcare and an early childhood educator at a child care center on the north side of Chicago. She has been working as an early childhood educator for over twenty years, but still makes just $12 an hour.

Anna told me that she planned to volunteer for Jeanette Taylor in the 20th ward. Jeanette went on a 34-day hunger strike to save her neighborhood high school, and now Anna is using her hard-earned vacation days to volunteer for a candidate who knows and understands our struggle.

Dr. King taught us that every step towards the goal of justice requires sacrifice. Jeanette and Anna are inspiring examples of that tireless exertion and passionate concern. Can you join us? Read more about our thirteen Movement Leaders running for Chicago City Council, and then sign up to knock doors, make phone calls, or raise money for them.

Thanks for everything you do. Look forward to seeing you in the streets soon.

UWF Elected Officials Chapter holds housing briefing with community organizers

Today, the new UWF Elected Official Chapter held its first-ever issue briefing on housing!

Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson, Cook County Commissioner Alma Anaya, State Representative Delia Ramirez, State Representative Aaron Ortiz, and State Representative Celina Villanueva met with organizers and activists from:

  • Chicago Housing Initiative

  • ONE Northside

  • Access Living

  • Just Housing Initiative

  • Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance

  • Logan Square Neighborhood Association

  • Pilsen Alliance

  • Lift The Ban Coalition

  • SEIU Healthcare IL & IN

  • Chicago Teachers Union

  • Chicago Coalition for the Homeless

Along with researchers Janet Smith of the UIC Voorhees Center and Stephanie Farmer of Roosevelt University, we held a powerful and historic conversation on how we win #HousingForAll through policy changes and political leadership at the city, county, and state level.

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Guest Post from Stacy Davis Gates: Happy New Year!

Happy New Year from all of us at United Working Families!

We had a powerful 2018, and 2019 is already underway in exciting and transformative ways. Here are some of the highlights of last year's work to win the political power we need to govern in unapologetically redistributive ways.

  • We are winning. In the March 2018 primary elections, we elected a slate of Black and Latinx candidates from the rank and file of our movements: Brandon Johnson, Delia Ramirez, Alma Anaya, and Aaron Ortiz. These victories were a direct result of our efforts to build and win on a set of aspirational politics as far back as 2014.

  • We are growing. We continue to add new affiliated organizations and at-large delegates to our Party Committee! We saw this growth firsthand at our largest-ever convention, in September.

  • We are building. This year, we launched two programs that have deepened and broadened our bench of organizers, candidates, and campaigners of color: the Movement Leader Fellowship and the Black Worker Organizing Institute. The new class of fellows have been placed on campaigns for the Chicago city elections, where they are learning important organizing and fundraising skills.

  • We are fighting. We staked out bold positions on the issues that matter most, whether it was sending elected officials to the US-Mexico border to protest family separation or organizing an 800-person mayoral forum on Black displacement in Chicago.

It’s been a powerful year for us—and it’s made possible only by the support of members like you. If you're looking forward to winning, growing, building, and fighting with us in 2019, please consider making a one-time donation of $25 or $50 today.

United Working Families is an Illinois-based, independent political organization by and for the many, not the few. Our members--Action Now, Chicago Teachers Union, Cook County College Teachers Union, Grassroots Illinois Action, SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana, People United for Action, Warehouse Workers Organizing Committee, United Electrical Workers Western Region, Illinois Nurses Association, 22nd Ward IPO, 25th Ward IPO, and 33rd Ward Working Families--represent over 100,000 people across Illinois.

Highlights from last year, clockwise from top left: Movement Leader Camp, SEIU HCII President Greg Kelley speaking at our mayoral forum on Black Displacement, newly elected officials Alma Anaya and Delia Ramirez with Alderman Carlos Ramirez Rosa at the US boarder, members of the Black Worker Organizing Institute, canvassing for Brandon Johnson for Cook County Commissioner.

Highlights from last year, clockwise from top left: Movement Leader Camp, SEIU HCII President Greg Kelley speaking at our mayoral forum on Black Displacement, newly elected officials Alma Anaya and Delia Ramirez with Alderman Carlos Ramirez Rosa at the US boarder, members of the Black Worker Organizing Institute, canvassing for Brandon Johnson for Cook County Commissioner.

RELEASE: United Working Families 2019 Second-Round Endorsements


January 2, 2019

United Working Families Announces Second Round of 2019 Endorsements

Progressive Candidates Ready to Win a Chicago for the Many, not the Few


CHICAGO - United Working Families (UWF), an independent political organization formed by progressive labor and community organizations, today announced five additional endorsements for City Council.


“We forced Rahm Emanuel into early retirement. Now, we’re building a City Hall that will fight back against those who have profited from from skyrocketing violence, displacement, and unemployment,” said Emma Tai, executive director of UWF. “Black and Latinx working families bore the brunt of Emanuel’s racist, pro-corporate economic agenda. Now is the time to win a different future.”


The five candidates who received the UWF endorsement this week are:

  • 9th Ward – Cleopatra Watson, a south side community organizer, youth advocate, and UWF Movement Leader Fellow from the 2018 primary elections.

  • 14th Ward – Tanya Patiño, a daughter of Mexican immigrants and longtime youth mentor who is challenging besieged machine incumbent Ed Burke.

  • 37th Ward – Tara Stamps, a Chicago Public Schools teacher, activist with the Chicago Teachers Union, and No Cop Academy supporter.

  • 45th Ward – Ald. John Arena, a leader in the fight for a $15-per-hour minimum wage, earned sick leave, and fair scheduling for Chicago families.

  •  47th Ward – Matt Martin, a civil rights attorney who worked on police reform and fought against Trump’s immigration policies at the Attorney General's office.

These five endorsed candidates join UWF’s early-endorsed slate—Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza (10), Rafael Yañez (15), Jeanette Taylor (20), Michael D. Rodríguez (22), Rossana Rodríguez Sanchez (33), Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35), Erika Wozniak Francis, and Maria Hadden (49)—in fighting to win a city for the many, not the wealthy few. Watch the video on the UWF early endorsements here:



United Working Families is an independent political organization by and for the 99%. UWF affiliate members include: Action Now, Chicago Teachers Union, Cook County College Teachers Union, Grassroots Illinois Action, SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana, Warehouse Workers Organizing Committee, Workers United CMRJB, United Electrical Workers Western Region, Illinois Nurses Association, People United for Action, 22nd Ward IPO, 25th Ward IPO, and 33rd Ward Working Families.

Meet Ryan Kelleher!

We are thrilled to welcome Ryan Kelleher as our new Director of Membership and Sustainability. Ryan is no stranger to UWF, from working as an organizer with Grassroots Illinois Action during the 2015 elections and going on to recruit Delia Ramirez to run for state representative in the 2018 elections. As the co-chair of Delia’s campaign, Ryan spearheaded efforts to raise over $100,000 for the campaign from small-dollar grassroots donors. 

Ryan is an experienced organizer who has built Black and Latinx-led campaigns at Fight for 15, Chicago Votes, and Grassroots Illinois Action; as Director of Membership and Sustainability, she will apply her organizing skills to build the grassroots donor base needed to fund progressive, independent political infrastructure. Read more about her journey in her own words:

I have grown up in Chicago my entire life and I’ve seen it change. I think that building United Working Families is vital in saving the soul of this city from becoming a place for only the rich and white.

I have spent the last eight years doing community, political, and labor organizing. I am deeply committed to social justice and building a grassroots coalition of working, people of color, and women that fight for and win systemic change in our city and state. I believe that United Working Families is our best vehicle at building a permanent political organization that empowers poor and working people to endorse candidates and recruit new leaders to take on and win political fights at the local and national level.

In my experience working in politics, there’s one overarching problem on the left: we show up at election time, we throw in a bunch of resources and time, and then after election day, we pack up never build a lasting, sustainable organization. For the past few years, I have done politics differently because I want to win and we will only do that by building something that lasts. We can’t rely on paid canvassers and mailers to win elections. The other side will ALWAYS have more money.

A great example of building the type of political program that I’m talking about is the work we have done in Humboldt Park over the last four years with Grassroots Illinois Action. When I arrived on the scene in December of 2014, the alderman was a close ally of the mayor. He had voted to close 50 schools, he turned the neighborhood school into a military academy, and he took thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from developers to build condos and luxury developments in his ward.

Today, he is a new man. He endorsed Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primary, he is an ally of the Chicago Teachers Union and the Fight for 15, a critic of the mayor, and he’s negotiating with GIA members around zoning developments in the 26th ward.

Why did he change, you ask? There are two reasons.

  1. We have built a local political organization, Grassroots Illinois Action, that consists of committed and passionate volunteers that knock on doors, hold meetings, and organize protests to hold our elected officials accountable.

  2. We get political at election time. We endorse candidates for office, and recruit our own when needed. This is building true political power at the local level that is permanent and this is what every elected official is terrified of.

Most recently, as the co-chair of the Delia for State Representative, I led the effort to #DraftDelia and went on to raise over $100,000 for the campaign from small dollar giving. On March 20th, we won with over 48% of the vote in a four-way race. It was a collective victory that was the result of the work that our members and allies had been doing for years.

Now that we know how to elect grassroots candidates, it is our job to figure out how to keep them with us by holding them accountable and setting them up to be successful. At UWF, I look forward to building the durable grassroots donor base we need to fund progressive, independent political organization.

Become a UWF sustaining member today!

Ryan (second from left) with Delia Ramirez (third from left) and UWF Organizing Director Candis Castillo (third from right) on the 2018 campaign.

Ryan (second from left) with Delia Ramirez (third from left) and UWF Organizing Director Candis Castillo (third from right) on the 2018 campaign.