UWF Summer 2018 Update

United Working Families is growing! At July's Party Committee meeting, delegates voted to accept the affiliation of the Illinois Nurses Association. INA joins United Electrical Workers Western Region, Warehouse Workers Organizing Committee, and People United for Action as new member organizations that have affiliated in just the last year!

This growth is a testament to the strength of our vision. We're fighting for a city and a state for the many, not the few. And we'll win it only by building the independent political alternative we need: a people-powered organization that recruits, elects, and supports leaders who come from the rank-and-file of our movements.

Building off of our momentum from this spring, when we were undefeated with a slate of Black and Latinx primary candidates from the ranks of our movements, we've continued to grow this summer:

  • We sent two endorsed candidates from the 2018 primaries, Alma Anaya and Delia Ramirez, along with at-large delegate and Chicago alderman Carlos Rosa, to the border to fight the separation of migrant families and the criminalization of people of color.
  • We launched our first-ever South Side Summer Organizing Institute with teachers and healthcare workers from our rank-and-file.
  • We held a second Movement Leader Camp, training over 50 people, the majority of them women and people of color, in the skills they need to run for office, manage campaigns, and organize local chapters.
  • We raised over $30,000 at our first-ever Trivia for the People summer fundraiser!

And we're just getting started. Join us at our membership convention on September 22 as we chart our next steps to win a city and state for the many, not the few.

What: United Working Families Membership Convention

When: Saturday, September 22, 10 am - 2 pm

Where: Chicago Teachers Union, 1901 W. Carroll Ave, Chicago, IL


Build the power of Black workers with us!

Two weekends ago, over 70 people were shot in Chicago. Last weekend, another 33 were wounded. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families. But our action and anger is directed at the elected officials who continue to allow this to happen. Violence isn't a fact of nature. It's the result of the decisions, made by public officials, to create desperate conditions in communities of color.

It doesn't have to be this way. If there is taxpayer money for Amazon CEOs and Lincoln Park developers, there is public money for schools, jobs, child care, counseling, and healthcare.

That's why United Working Families organized our first-ever South Side Summer Organizing Institute this year. All summer, teachers and healthcare workers have been knocking on doors, organizing meetings, and identifying prospective candidates who come from the ranks of our movements. We're fighting for our right to this city and building the power we need to win.

Want to learn more? Join us at a community canvass this Saturday to hear more about how it's going, and help us build the power we need to fight back.

What: UWF South Side Community Canvass

When: Saturday, August 18, 9:30 am - 12 pm

Where: 617 W. 61st Place, Chicago, IL

Can't join us on Saturday? Consider making a contribution to help support this important work. Link to donate here.

Through United Working Families, rank-and-file labor leaders are building people-powered political organization on the South Side of Chicago. Join us!

Guest post by Candis Castillo: "We just want to live."

“We just want to live,” one woman said. “Our black kids keep getting killed. We just want to live.” - Chicago Sun-Times, July 15, 2018 ----

Yesterday, a Black man named Harith Augustus was shot in the back by the Chicago Police Department.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel will go through the motions: a press conference, a task force, a scapegoat.

Meanwhile, Black families in Chicago live ever more violent and precarious lives in our city: terrorized by the police, destabilized by school closings and joblessness, locked up, pushed out, shot, killed.

It’s not a coincidence that cranes and condos are coming into downtown while Black families are being displaced by the thousands. It’s intentional. The Mayor and his corporate donors, with the support of the overwhelming majority of Chicago’s political class, are turning Chicago into a city for the wealthy few.

Black people have no place in that future city. That’s why they have closed our schools, broken our unions, and locked up our youth. That’s why they’re killing us.

I grew up on the South Side of Chicago. I believe we have a right to Chicago. And as the Organizing Director of United Working Families, I’m working with Black union members to build the people-powered, independent political organization we need to fight for our lives.

Help us fight back. Donate to support our South Side Organizing Institute, and register today for our fall membership convention, where our organizing interns will lead the conversation on how we build a different future together.

Candis Castillo (far left) with members of the first-ever South Side Organizing Institute.

SAVE THE DATE! United Working Families Membership Convention

Saturday, September 22

10 am - 2 pm

Chicago Teachers Union, 1901 W. Carroll


Trivia for the People - Important Info for Teams!

Important Needs and Reminders:
  1. If your org is paying for your team, please purchase your team registration here or bring a check on Thursday. As of July 6, teams that still need to pay for registration are:
    • 10th Ward Troublemakers
    • Bridge Over Trivial Waters
    • Fire Rahm? YUP!
    • Fired Up to Fire Rahm
    • GIA: Geniuses In Action
    • Lucy's Rebels
    • Pizza Club
    • Supreme Nursing Wisdom
    • Team Springfield
    • The Know-It-Alls
    • WOW, Working Out West
  2. If the members of your team are paying individually, please have them do that here before Thursday.
Location and Parking
Trivia for the People is at 1140 W. Monroe. The loft space in the west loop is being donated, so please be mindful of that and try your best not to spill or break anything :). There is street parking as well as a lot with 40 spots available at Kolcraft Enterprises, 1100 W. Monroe. Anyone who parks in this lot needs to display a United Working Families sign in their window- we will have a volunteer located in the parking lot handing those out. Remember, there are only 40 spots, so if you can take public transportation or find a ride, please do so.
When you arrive, please go to 'team registration' at check in and tell the volunteer your team name and your last name. Please make sure all members of your team are aware of your team name beforehand. The team captain will get a packet with materials needed for trivia, including a sign to be displayed on your table.
Please arrive between 5:30-6pm to allow time for parking, registration, etc. Trivia begins promptly at 6:30pm and finishes at 9pm. The trivia team winners get a prize!
Cheating ... for a cause
You can give your team an advantage...for a price! At the beginning of the night, you can bid on a unionized University of Chicago graduate student ringer to join your team (especially useful for the science round, maybe?). Throughout the night, a select number of "free answer passes" will be for sale. Winner of best team name and best team uniform (judged by our celebrity judges) also get one free answer pass.
Food and Drinks
Pizza, vegetable skewers, cookies, and one drink are included in your ticket price (sponsoring teams get additional drink tickets). Additional drinks are available for a suggested donation of $5, so bring cash! We will have wine and punch as well as water and non-alcoholic drinks.
See you Thursday!

In the Trump era, working people need a real political alternative.

Bosses around the country--including the billionaire in Springfield and the con man in DC--are celebrating today's decision by the Trump Supreme Court. The Janus vs. AFSCME Council 31 case was designed to weaken the political power of working people. Underwritten by the wealthiest members of our rigged economy, Janus is a craven attack on the ability of workers to fight for good jobs and robust public services.

But today's decision by Trump's Supreme Court should be no surprise. The bigger question is who will fight back?

In Chicago and Illinois, union jobs in public schools, hospitals, and transportation were a pathway to the middle class for women and Black and Brown families. It was Democrats, not Republicans, who decimated those jobs when they privatized schools, sold parking meters, and closed public clinics. And both Democrats and Republicans refuse to ask their wealthy donors to pay taxes for the flourishing public services we deserve.

In the aftermath of Janus, the attacks on our jobs, schools, and communities will only deepen. Working people need a real political alternative. That’s what United Working Families is here for.

Help us fight back. Sign up today to knock doors, join a committee, or make a donation. We can't do it without you.

What you can do.

My first child turns five months old next week. I hold him tighter as I watch families being detained, separated, and lost to each other on the U.S. border. It is monstrous to separate children from parents who have brought them to this country with the dream of a better life. Keeping families together while locked in cages is wholly insufficient, and no less horrific.

And yet every day, families are being locked up and torn from each other--not just on the border, and not just by Donald Trump. Immigrant families separated by ICE raids. Women on public assistance who live in fear of having their kids taken away. Young people shot, surveilled, and incarcerated in neighborhoods ravaged by public disinvestment.

At United Working Families, we're fighting against deportations, criminalization, and displacement in every way we can. We believe in and are working towards a world in which government protects the dignity of all people, not the wealth of the richest few.

We're taking action in the following ways. I hope you'll join us.

1. Call your elected officials. Demand that they abolish ICE, force Jeff Sessions out, end mass trials, and investigate and hold DHS accountable for the thousands of children separated from their families. Look up the contact information for your representatives in Congress here.

2. Make a donation. If you are able to support work on the border, we suggest Puente, a grassroots migrant justice organization based in Phoenix, AZ. Thank you to our sisters and brothers at Mijente for the recommendation.

3. Sign up to take action. Actions are being planned at the border and locally in Chicago and Illinois in the coming days and weeks. Our young Latinx champions from the 2018 primaries--Alma Anaya, Delia Ramirez, and Aaron Ortiz--are planning to be there. Sign up to join us and we'll be in touch.

The struggle continues. I believe that we will win.

In Solidarity,

Emma Tai

Executive Director

Ed Sadlowski, 1938-2018

¡Presente!  Steelworker and union leader Ed Sadlowski - September 10, 1938 – June 10, 2018

As a rank-and-file union activist and working class labor leader, Ed Sadlowski led from a place of profound respect and love for his fellow workers. Sadlowski and the Steelworkers Fight Back movement that he helped lead laid out a vision for democratic, militant unionism, rooted in our communities that has inspired many of UWF's members and affiliated organizations. While some labor "leaders" tried to curry favor with corporate bosses and politicians, Ed was mounting a battle that inspires organizing in Chicago and across the country to this day. By starting at the grassroots and the shop floor, the fight for workers' rights and the dignity of every working class family in his orbit could be won.

United Working Families sends our deepest condolences to his family and friends  – particularly our sister and Ed’s daughter, Alderwoman Sue Sadlowski Garza. Eddie raised her as a chip off the old block – to fight, like her father, for Chicago's working class communities, first as a member of the Chicago Teachers Union, then as an Alderwoman and member of UWF's Party Committee.

Jesse Sharkey, CTU Vice President and UWF Party Committee Delegate: "Ed said what few in power have the decency to admit: that ordinary workers have intelligence and creativity and grace, and deserve the rights and working conditions that allow us to live with dignity and possibility. I was honored to learn from him, and honored to call him a friend."

Guest post by Rod Wilson: Is your rent too high?

Tell your legislators today that working families deserve rent control. This winter, we talked to thousands of voters about the need for rent control in our city and state and we heard it over and over again - people are struggling to keep up with rising rents. In nine wards across the city, voters were asked if we should lift the ALEC-backed statewide ban on rent control and over 70% of them said yes.

Now legislators in Springfield are considering a bill that would both repeal the ban and bring rent stabilization to Illinois!
Today, housing advocates, renters, and small landlords are on their way to Springfield to ask for a YES vote on the Rent Control Act (SB 3512), which would lift the ban and regulate how much rent can increase. Will you join them by sending an email to your State Senator and Representative and let them know you support SB 3512?
Lift the Ban's Jawanza Malone talks rent control at United Working Families' First Thursday
If you're tired of ever rising rents, send an email to our lawmakers today and tell them you support the Rent Control Act.
In Solidarity,
Rod Wilson
People United for Action & UWF Delegate

PS -- If you haven't already, please consider making a $15, $25, or $50 donation today to help us keep this work going. We're 100% funded by the dues of working people--we can't do this important work without you!

Guest post by Candis Castillo: Black Women Lead.

Working for Delia Ramirez was my first experience managing an electoral campaign. I saw firsthand how powerful it is to have women of color who come from our movements in leadership on the campaign trail--a role that is traditionally dominated by white men.
As a Black woman coming from the labor movement, I'm passionate about growing the next generation of progressive candidates and campaigners of color. So I couldn't be more excited to invite you to a special conversation on May 19 about the strength and brilliance of Black women and how we build an independent political and social movement centered on our issues.
I hope you'll join us for We Rise Up: How Revolutionary Black Women Lead, a collective conversation with Nina Turner, President of Our Revolution, IL State Representative Litesa Wallace, and IL State Representative Carol Ammons.

WhatWe Rise Up: How Revolutionary Black Women Lead

When: Saturday, May 19, 1-4 pm

Where: Chicago State University Breakey Theater, 9501 S. King Dr, Chicago

Space is limited and registration is required to attend. Register here.

Trusting Black women doesn't mean propping us up as symbols--it means putting us in positions to lead the way. Come be a part of a conversation about how we do it.
In Solidarity,
Candis Castillo, Organizing Director

This May Day, support working-class politics.

This May Day, help us build the political power of working people. Last month, United Working Families slate of first-time Black and Latinx candidates was victorious in the Illinois primaries.

Not only that, but our first class of Movement Leader Fellows--young people of color from the rank and file of our movements--were trained and placed on successful campaigns where they laid the foundation for the organizing we need to do after election day.

United Working Families is building the real working-class political power we need to take back our city and state. But we can't do it without you.

In honor of International Workers Day, please consider donating $25, $50, or $100 today to help us build the progressive, people-powered political alternative we need.

Guest post by Aaron Ortiz: I got my start with UWF.

Three years ago, I participated in the United Working Families Fellowship, where I learned how to knock on doors and have real conversations with my neighbors. It helped me realize that I have what it takes to run for office. Just last month, I fought and won against one of the most powerful machines in the state.
During this past election cycle, UWF took up this mantel again. They hosted a team of talented Movement Leader Fellows, who are considering running for office, working on campaigns, or building independent political organizations in their neighborhoods. This Fellowship program gave me an opportunity to be involved in progressive politics and laid the foundation to my campaign, so I am excited to see where this year's cohort is headed!
That’s why I’ll be joining the UWFellows Graduation Celebration on Saturday. Will I see you there?

WhatMovement Leader Fellow Graduation

When: Saturday, April 14th, 2018 from 3 - 5 pm

Where: Cobra Lounge, 235 N Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL 60607

*a parking lot is provided, street parking on Fulton is free, and the Ashland green line stop is one block away

Who: Brandon Johnson, Delia Ramirez, Aaron Ortiz, Alma Anaya, and the 2018 class of Movement Leader Fellows

RSVP Here!


On March 20, voters came out in force for our UWF slate of candidates - Brandon Johnson and Alma Anaya for Cook County Commissioner seats, and Delia Ramirez and Aaron Ortiz for State Representative. They are all first time candidates, young people of color who have been active in movements for education justice, immigrant rights, and more.  It was a stunning upset for machine politics and a progressive victory for working families.

These are not just electoral victories. They are organizing victories. They were seeded by our work in the 2015 Chicago elections and powered by the independent political organizations that grew out of those efforts. And they demonstrate that when we organize, we can win.

Can you donate $25, $50, or $100 today to help us keep up the momentum?

This election, United Working Families knocked on thousands of doors, talked to hundreds of voters, and trained a class of fellows in the skills they need to keep organizing and winning. Our staff and board members ran these grassroots campaigns. And we invested early to make sure that our challengers would have the resources they needed to be competitive.

The result? We went four-for-four with first-time candidates and young people of color. And we’re ready to keep taking on corporate politicians with movement candidates.

We’re ready for 2019, 2020, and beyond. But we can’t do it without you! This can be a warning shot for Rahm Emanuel and his rubber-stamp aldermen, but we can’t do it without you! We're building a challenge to the parties of billionaires. Please consider chipping in today.

STATEMENT: People-Powered Victories a “Warning Shot” for Complacent Dems in 2019, 2020

CHICAGO- Following is the statement of Emma Tai, Executive Director of United Working Families (UWF), on the victories of UWF-endorsed candidates in today’s primary elections: Brandon Johnson (Cook County 1), Delia Ramirez (IL House 4), Aaron Ortiz (IL House 1), and Alma Anaya (Cook County 7). “Today, voters came out in force for movement candidates Brandon Johnson, Delia Ramirez, Aaron Ortiz, and Alma Anaya. The United Working Families slate—all first-time candidates and young people of color—took on big-money interests in the Democratic Party, and won.

“These are not just electoral victories. They are organizing victories. These campaigns were seeded by our work in the 2015 city elections and powered by the independent political organizations that grew out of those efforts.

“And we’re not letting up. United Working Families knocked on thousands of doors, talked to hundreds of voters, and trained a class of activists in the skills they need to keep organizing and winning long after today’s election. We’re ready to take on the complacent Democrats who have let violence, gentrification, and unemployment ravage our communities. We’ve said that parties controlled by billionaires can’t represent working families and tonight’s results show that the voters are with us.

“This matters for 2019. Tonight is a warning shot. Rahm Emanuel and his rubber-stamp aldermen should be very afraid.”


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.

Weekly canvasses for UWF-endorsed candidates

There's no better way to win elections and build our movement than by having one-to-one conversations with our neighbors. Can you spend a Saturday out talking to voters and helping build a Chicago for the many, not the few? If you are ready to get out and talk to voters about some great movement candidates and the issues they'll help move forward, connect to a weekly canvass! Here are the details for all UWF-endoresed candidates. When can you join us? Canvass for Brandon Johnson Saturdays @ 10 am AND 1 pm at 6610 W North Avenue RSVP here!

Canvass for Delia Ramirez Saturdays @ 10 am at 2559 W Division Ave RSVP here!

Canvass for Alma Anaya Saturdays @ 10 am AND 1 pm 3520 S. Archer Ave RSVP and details here!


Canvass for Aaron Ortiz Saturdays @ 10 am AND 1 pm 3520 S. Archer Ave RSVP and details here!


We can't wait to hear about your conversations at the doors. Send your photos and stories to info@unitedworkingfamilies.org and check back here to hear about what folks are saying. RSVP today and we'll see you out there!

United Working Families Adds Endorsements to 2018 Candidate Slate

United Working Families adds the endorsement of two more movement candidates, who are ready to build for the many and take on the Rahm, Rauner, and Trump agenda, to our 2018 Candidate Slate United Working Families is pleased to announce additions to their slate of candidates for the 2018 March primaries, including:

Alma Anaya, Cook County Commissioner, 7th District

Alma Anaya grew up undocumented in a working-class Latino household on the Southeast Side of Chicago. Alma worked as Commissioner “Chuy” Garcia's staff for six and a half years, rising to the position of Director of Administration at the young age of 28. She is now running for Cook County Commissioner of the 7th District. She is a leader in Pilsen where she was a member of the local elementary school’s Local School Council and has volunteered countless hours to Mujeres Latinas en Accion, an organization that services survivors of domestic violence – an issue that Alma has experienced and feels passionately must be addressed.

UWF believes Alma is the best choice to fight for working families in Cook County. She will lead the push to strengthen and improve the County Health and Hospital system, making it accessible and affordable to all. As an immigrant, Alma is passionate about protecting immigrant rights, and she will be a strong advocate to keep ICE out of Cook County. She is a people’s candidate and embodies the desire to have representation that is rooted in and accountable to our communities.


Aaron Ortiz, State Representative, 1st District

Aaron Ortiz, at 26, is running for State Representative in the 1st District. He is running against the heart of the Chicago machine to represent the state's largest Latinx district. Aaron has been a counselor for hundreds of CPS high school students in Back of the Yards and Gage Park. He's seen the struggle families go through to try to put together enough resources for their children to get into college, which led him to volunteer with United Working Families on an aldermanic campaign and mayoral bid in Gage Park and Back of the Yards in 2015.

Now he's ready to take the fight to Springfield for families of the 1st District. Aaron will be a voice for youth looking to continue their college education by advocating for free college for all, a progressive income tax to properly fund our schools, a $15 minimum wage in our state, and universal healthcare.

We are proud to support these progressive candidates who have a deep roots in communities on the Southwest side. Like our the rest of our 2018 Candidate Slate, these are two first-time candidates of color with the communities ties to fight for the many, not the few.

UWF STATEMENT: No Surprises from Rauner and Trump; Real Question is What Dems Will Do

CHICAGO- Following is the statement of Emma Tai, Executive Director of United Working Families (UWF), on Bruce Rauner’s State of the State address:

“Just one day after Donald Trump’s State of the Union address, here comes Bruce Rauner with more of the same. Slapping a new catchphrase on schemes that help the rich get richer is no bold idea.

“Rauner, like Trump, is just another political boss looking out for his elite friends and donors. No surprises there. The question is, when will the Democrats provide a real alternative?

“Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin, Jesse Ruiz, and Paul Vallas have built their political careers on closing schools, attacking workers, and privatizing public services.

“They’re not alone. Democratic majorities have approved budgets that laid off social workers rather than ask the 1% to pay more. They have resisted bringing elected school boards to CPS and City Colleges. They have presided over sky-high rates of gentrification, violence, and unemployment that have forced tens of thousands of African-Americans out of the city entirely.

“That is why United Working Families has endorsed Brandon Johnson, Delia Ramirez, and Aaron Ortiz in the March 2018 primaries. The time is right for a real alternative to Trump and Rauner. The time is right for a real alternative to Trump and Rauner. If the Democrats and their ultra-rich donors won’t provide it, then it is up to independent political organizations to fill the void.”


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.

Meet Political Director Jason Lee!

We are thrilled to welcome Jason Lee as our new Political Director for United Working Families. Jason is no stranger to UWF, having worked as a regional field director for UWF on Chicago's west side in the 2015 city elections. Since that time, he has engaged tens of thousands of AFSCME members in key elections in New Jersey, Nevada, and Ohio. Read more about Jason's story and his return to Chicago in his own words:

I grew up in and around politics in my hometown of Houston, TX. However, for most of my youth and early adulthood, I was pessimistic about the possibilities for meaningful change through electoral politics. I thought that our electoral system had been so co-opted by powerful monied interests that it was no longer a viable area of contestation. I decided that with little will to change the broken system and few institutions strong enough to challenge it, the only workable path forward was to accrue the resources that would give me the power to bend it to my will; to fight fire with fire.

After several years on this path, working within global corporate finance, I came to several stunning realizations. The first was that injustice was global and systemic. As a black American I had been keenly attuned to racial injustice, particularly in the United States, but my travels around the globe made clear that as long as we lived in a class-based political economy, that every marginalized identity group would find themselves carrying the yoke of oppression. I realized the answer wasn’t to re-shift the unjust hierarchy, but rather to work towards a just world for all. Secondly, I learned the meaning of Dr. King’s axiom that the “ends are pre-existent in the means.” If my goal was truly to create a just world, I decided that I could not use unjust means--like accruing wealth to undermine democratic norms--to achieve those ends.

It was this latter realization that led me out of my job and to search for a democratic and just means of change. The first criteria I had was “organization.” I wanted to find a place where real people were organizing for real power. That search led me to Chicago, where the Chicago Teachers Union had just waged and won one of the greatest labor battles of the twenty-first century. I didn’t know much other than I wanted to learn how they did it. On a whim, I flew to the Labor Notes Conference in Chicago, hoping to meet the leaders that I had read about in articles. Fortune was on my side, because after wandering around for hours, I did meet CTU leaders Jesse Sharkey, Norine Gutekanst, Jackson Potter, and Brandon Johnson. From there I was blessed to be invited to the CTU Summer Organizing Institute, where I met the member-activists that continue to inspire me to this day. During that summer, many Chicagoans became inspired by the possibility of a Karen Lewis mayoral run. I was no different. I decided to withdraw from business school to stay in Chicago and help bring the movement to its political fulfillment. While Karen ultimately did not run, the movement (and I) soldiered on behind Chuy Garcia and dynamic west side Aldermanic candidate and educator, Tara Stamps.

Working on the west side, I fell in love with the spirit of the people and my heart broke for the unjust conditions that too many lived under, especially in a city of so much wealth. After the election, I committed myself to continue organizing for change on the west side. I was fortunate to be able to do that work through the vehicle of United Working Families and meet the good folks at SEIU HCII who were equally committed. Emboldened, I also helped create the Greater Austin Independent Political Oranization, a group of dedicated Austin residents willing to take on the power structure to strengthen their neighborhoods. I left Chicago to join AFSCME International, where I had the chance to wage political struggle with public sector workers all over the United States. Now I as I return, I bring those lessons with me, along with my deep appreciation for the people and fight in Chicago and Illinois. Together we will fulfill the political promise of this movement and wield real power to changes the lives of those that inspire our work.

Meet Director of New Organizing Kate Barthelme!

We are thrilled to announce that Kate Barthelme will be joining United Working Families as our first Director of New Organizing! Kate was a founding member of a successful all-volunteer independent political organization in Albany Park following the 2015 elections, and comes to us with almost twenty years of political and organizing experience. Read more about her story in her own words here:

For me, politics has always been personal. After a struggle to find affordable, confidential, and caring healthcare, I started my organizing work at Planned Parenthood, at a time when right-wing attacks on women's healthcare were on the rise. In the ten years I was at Planned Parenthood, we fought again and again to stop bad judicial nominations, budget cuts and restrictions, abstinence-only policies, and the harassment of women trying to access healthcare. With each campaign, we met new leaders and volunteers, won back legislative seats across Illinois, and eventually the presidency. On election night in 2008, we stood in Grant Park and celebrated.

But in the months and years that followed, we realized we had to fight just as hard for basic demands around funding for birth control and access to healthcare for working women and women of color. It taught me that our work is never done and it’s not enough to win on Election Day. In fact, Election Day is when our hard work as organizers starts.

In 2015, I worked with my neighbors in Albany Park to run a local teacher for a city council seat that’s long been held by the Mell political dynasty. We came within a heartbreaking 17 votes of forcing the first runoff the ward has seen in decades. Election Day was over and we started organizing. Together, we’ve built 33rd Ward Working Families and in the last two years, we’ve pushed our Alderman to take her first votes against the Mayor, helped to build an immigration defense coalition, elected five community members to Local School Council seats, and put questions on charter schools and rent control on the ballot.

While these victories have been important, I am most inspired by the opportunities we've created to meet my neighbors in new ways. We’ve had hard and important conversations about what’s wrong in our ward and in Chicago and worked together to find and fight for the solutions we want. It’s been an important reminder for me of how politics is both personal and local.

My day job for the last six years has been as a trainer at the Midwest Academy, a national institute for community organizing, where I’ve worked with a broad range of progressive organizations and coalitions fighting for an even broader range of issues. I’ve helped develop campaign strategies for issues from family medical leave to environmental regulation to employment discrimination. At the end of the day, the opposition is the same: the undue influence of corporate greed in our political process.

In order to win on all the issues we care about in this moment, I think we need to start locally and build large-scale political power that can take on the 1%. Right now, the power of money in politics stands in the way of the things that we need most: access to equitable health care; safe, affordable neighborhoods; quality public education; and a fully-funded public sector. To see these things realized, we need a new governor, a new mayor, and real progressive majority on our city council AND the people power to hold these newly elected folks accountable to our agenda and solutions.

I am so excited to work with more neighbors and local groups around the Chicago area that can unite working families around the vision and solutions that we choose together. I see a network of vibrant, powerful, local groups working on issues that matter and coming together to shift the balance of power in favor of working families.



United Working Families Announces 2018 Candidate Slate


United Working Families Announces 2018 Candidate Slate

Movement Candidates Ready to Take on Trump, Rauner


WHAT: United Working Families (UWF), an independent political organization by and for the 99% backed by progressive labor and community organizations, will announce their slate of candidates for the 2018 March primaries.

At a time when the combined policies of Trump, Rauner, and Rahm are wreaking havoc on the working families of Chicago and Cook County, the UWF candidates will call for a bold new direction: aggressive public investment in public jobs and schools to break the cycle of violence, displacement, and unemployment.

United Working Families is endorsing Brandon Johnson for Cook County Commissioner 1st District and Delia Ramirez for State Representative in the Illinois 4th District. Both are first-time candidates of color with deep roots in labor and community fights to win a Chicago for the many, not the few.

WHO: Emma Tai, executive director of UWF, together with members and leaders from United Working Families and its affiliate organizations, and the 2018 United Working Families endorsed candidates:

  • Delia Ramirez (IL-4)
  • Brandon Johnson (Cook County-1)

WHEN: Wednesday, December 6th at 12:30 pm

WHERE: Grace Episcopal Church, 637 S. Dearborn, Chicago, IL




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, 22nd Ward IPO, 25th Ward IPO, and 33rd Ward Working Families.

Meet Organizing Director Candis Castillo!

We are so excited to announce that Candis Castillo will be joining United Working Families as our first Organizing Director! Candis, a daughter of Chicago's south side, is a proven and passionate labor leader.

Read more about her story in her own words here:

I grew up in the Roseland neighborhood of Chicago. My grandparents, who lived next door, were strong union members and from an early age I knew the union made a difference, because my parents had jobs without one. I began to organize in high school, where we developed a direct action strategy against the principal of the school, who had created racially discriminatory policies on hairstyles and nail color. Through direct action, we were able to have the polices revoked and have the principal removed. It was the first time in my life that I saw the power of organized people and realized that I could be an agent of change. I went on to attend Alabama A&M, a Historically Black College/University where I was able to dig into my own Afro-Latino history and heritage even further.

After graduation, I began organizing teachers with the American Federation of Teachers/United Teachers of New Orleans, where I met Black women who made the work of uplifting and educating the community their life mission. In the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita these women did not stop seeking justice. As they lost their homes, their jobs, and nearly lost their union, they continued to fight for their community.

On my very first organizing campaign with United Teachers of New Orleans, the teachers came up one vote short of winning back their collective bargaining rights that they lost after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Even though over 75% of the teachers had signed cards in support of the union and we had overwhelming community support, it was not enough to persuade four of the seven board members to recognize their union. That was when I first realized the importance of having elected officials who are on the side of working people.

As my organizing career moved further along, I built more and more support and organization with workers--but encountered more and more opposition from politicians. While working with airport workers in Chicago, for example, we could feel the momentum from the workers, but the rigged political process intervened to deny workers a living wage.

By the time I started working with graduate employees at the University of Chicago, I had had enough. Rights as workers of graduate employees have been subject to the whim of whichever political party holds power. It doesn’t matter that graduate employees touch almost every aspect of university life, it doesn’t matter that they do ground-breaking research in disease and medicine, and it definitely did not matter that in many cases they voted overwhelmingly to be union in the first place. Graduate employees' very existence as workers have been questioned in our current political system for over 20 years. In October, Graduate Students United won a decisive union election and are now a certified local of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT), and the American Association of University Professors (AAUP)!

Around this time last year, still very much in shock from the election of Donald Trump and in the midst of the University of Chicago campaign, I was watching the news  and saw that 43 percent of union households voted for Trump. My very first reaction was ‘fake news,’ but then I thought about the 2015 mayoral campaign in Chicago. We voted overwhelmingly for an elected school board but we didn’t vote for the candidate that would give us one. In fact, we voted for the person that said they definitely wouldn’t give us one!

That was when I decided not only did that have to change but that I actively wanted to work to change it. That led me to United Working Families: an organization built by the workers, seeking out candidates who will hold up the values of the workers, and not the super-donors. I'm thrilled to be joining United Working Families as Organizing Director. I look forward to listening to our members, growing our membership, and winning for workers across Illinois!