Volume 8, No. 6 – September 2021
In this issue
• SEIU Strike

• Introducing Christi Babayeju

Tribute to Richard Trumka

Early Women Architects

SEIU Strikes For Improved Working Conditions     

by Christi Babayeju
At 6:00 am on June 25, 2021, the SEIU Local 73 representatives of Cook County workers took to the streets to strike for fairer contract provisions. 

For context, approximately two million workers at businesses from the public sector, property service, and healthcare comprise the Service Employees International Union. The SEIU advocates for a universally equitable society. The Local 73 serves as a mediator for over thirty-one thousand workers in Illinois and NW Indiana. The members of this union are integral to our community and support the success of our cities and states. 
Prior to the strike, Cook County offered a 2% pay increase for each year from 2022-2024 with no growth in salary for 2021. In addition to insufficient raises, Cook County attempted to increase the cost of health insurance for workers by a maximum of 80%. Furthermore, despite the federal government funding pandemic pay, Cook County did not offer it to County employees. Essentially, the president of the Cook County board of commissioners, Toni Preckwinkle, tried to allocate millions in reserves from federal Covid relief to hire replacement workers.  Cook County workers were outraged at the actions of President Preckwinkle and her negotiators. "They were asking for the ultimate sacrifice... we didn't know what the virus was. We were still going to work and getting sick... they weren't being fair in how they were compensating our workers," said Dian Palmer, President of Local 73.

Community members and organizations came out to support the over twenty-five hundred striking Cook Country Workers: SEIU Local 1, State Rep. Lakesia Collins (D-9), and Chair of UMUAC (Universalist Multiracial Unity Action Council) Kelvin Sandridge, to name a few. 

Local 73 was on strike at the Markham Courthouse, Stroger Hospital, and County Jail regarding this issue. In terms of a resolution between the County and its workers, Local 73 said it wanted a contract package that is on par with other unions before it terminated the strike. 

As confirmed on July 13, 2021, Cook County workers and the County reached a tentative agreement after over ten months of deliberation and eighteen days of striking. The strike garnered contract improvements by providing hazard pay for certain workers during the pandemic, and prioritizing seniority in hiring and promotions, as stated in the July 13, 2021, SEIU Local 73 press release. A panel of arbitrators led by a neutral party will decide other conditions in the new contract. The now-ended strike is the longest in the history of Local 73 and has raised the living conditions of the county's primarily brown, Black, and female workers. 
 Introducing Christi Babayeju
by Amy Laiken
We are introducing Christi Babayeju, Working Women's History Project's new volunteer newsletter intern. Her first article appears in this month's newsletter. Christi is a senior at Northside College Prep, where she has compiled an impressive academic record as evidenced by having been awarded a Dean's scholarship to attend a summer program at Brown University, among other academic honors. Her extracurricular activities include serving as treasurer of the French Honor Society, and as a peer mentor for freshmen. We welcome Christi and look forward to her future contributions to our newsletter.
Remembering Richard Trumka
by Alma Washington
The death of AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, an influential and inspirational leader, is a huge loss not only for union members, but for all workers.

Reading about his death reminded me of the first time I met Mr. Trumka, which was at the SAG-AFTRA Inaugural National Convention in Los Angeles. He had just finished giving a rousing speech. On his way out of the room I introduced myself and asked if he would consider being the keynote speaker at the Illinois Labor History Society’s annual dinner. He said yes, and to contact his office. The second time we met was at the ILHS dinner. I met him at the door and took a photograph. Later he came to the SAG-AFTRA table. We all chatted for a few minutes, and gave him a membership pin, which he proudly wore. A warm and friendly person, he was truly a man of the people.

Mr. Trumka’s passion and dedication to his organization was contagious. Hopefully, I can hang on to some of that inspirational spirit to help keep my union strong.

Alma Washington is a board member of WWHP, a trustee of Illinois Labor History Society, and a member of SAG-AFTRA.

Women Pioneers in Architecture
by Amy Laiken
When people think of women architects, they might know about architects like the 2011 MacArthur Fellow Jeanne Gang, who designed Aqua Tower, the Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo, and many other notable works. But decades before she came to prominence, several women with Chicago connections were entering the field of architecture long before it was common, or even acceptable. Below are two of those women with Chicago connections whose careers likely served as an inspiration to other women of later generations.
Marion Mahony Griffin (1871-1961) was born in Chicago and moved to Winnetka with her family following the Chicago Fire. Educated at MIT, she was the second woman to graduate with a degree in architecture. Following her graduation, she returned to Chicago, and became the first woman to be licensed in that profession in Illinois. She first worked for her male cousin at his architectural firm. About a year later, she was hired by Frank Lloyd Wright. She joined his Oak Park studio and collaborated with him for 14 years. Among the projects she worked on while employed by Wright was the All Souls Unitarian Church in Evanston (1903), which was demolished in 1960. She also completed houses on Millikin Place in Decatur that Wright began before he left for Europe, including the E.P. Irving House; the Robert Mueller House; and the Adolph Mueller House. In or about 1914, Mahony Griffin moved to Australia with her husband, architect Walter Burley Griffin. They were in practice together there until Walter’s death in 1937. She finished several of his commissions before returning to Chicago a few years later. She also completed two murals at Armstrong Elementary School in Chicago, which were restored in 1997. A founding member of the Chicago Arts and Crafts Society, and a member of the Chicago Architectural Club and the Illinois Chapter of AIA (American Institute of Architects), Marion Mahony Griffin died in Chicago in 1961. In 2015, a beachfront park, formerly known as Jarvis Beach, was renamed in her honor. See the links below for more information: 

Georgia Louise Harris Brown (1918-1999) was born in Topeka, Kansas. After attending Washburn University, she moved to Chicago where she took a summer class with Mies van der Rohe. She later returned to her home state, where she attended the University of Kansas, receiving a bachelor of science in architecture in 1944, becoming the first African American woman to earn that degree from that university.  Returning to Chicago the following year, she began working at the firm of Kenneth Roderick O’Neal, an architect and structural engineer, who had also studied with Mies van der Rohe. In 1949, Georgia Louise Harris Brown received her architecture license and moved to the firm of Frank J. Kornacker Associates. While there, she developed structural calculations for a number of Chicago projects, including Mies van der Rohe’s Promontory Apartments, as well as the Lunt Lake Apartments at 1122 W. Lunt; Prairie Court Apartments; the apartment building at 860 Lake Shore Drive; Prairie Court Apartments; and East Dentistry, Medicine Pharmacy Building at the University of Illinois. In 1953, Harris Brown moved to Brazil and spent the rest of her working life there, practicing architecture until returning to the United States in the mid-90s. See the links below for more information:

Working Women's History Project

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