Chicago Coalition Proposes CBA for Redevelopment of Former US Steel Works

September 4, 2014 -- Partnership for Working Families

“Lakeside Development offers the opportunity for parents to start working now and our children to know they have future jobs in the community. Training and a true relationship with this community is what will make this a reality.” - Yvette Moyo, Coalition member, Programs Coordinator for Black United Fund of Illinois, and South Shore resident of 50 years

The Coalition for a Lakeside CBA in Chicago has released a proposed CBA for the massive redevelopment of the former US Steel’s South Works on Chicago’s Lakefront. The project, Lakeside Development, covers almost 600 acres, is expected to provide over 139,000 jobs, and includes over 13,900 housing units and 17 million square feet of retail. It is the largest development in the region and the last undeveloped lakefront property in Chicago. 

The Coalition, including 28 community/neighborhood organizations plus one ally, the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 881, has been meeting for over a year. They have canvassed the community for input, held small meetings and big forums, and surveyed the best examples of CBAs from other cities. Based on community input, the draft CBA includes language about:

  • Prioritizing jobs, training, and education opportunities for local families
  • Supporting tax relief for long-time residents
  • Offering affordable housing and environmental protections

Natashia Holmes, 7th Ward Alderman, has met with the coalition. She said, "With this historic opportunity occurring on Chicago’s southeast side, I am supportive of a Community Benefits Agreement for the Lakeside Development that will meet the most pressing needs of our community.”

The Coalition is organized and coordinated by the Alliance of the South East (ASE). Two members, the Black United Fund of Illinois (BUFI) and St. Augustine College, have experience in providing job training and placing trainees with the building trades unions. Claretian Associates builds affordable housing in South Chicago and is intimately familiar with the community’s housing needs. 

It was recently announced that Mariano’s grocery store, a UFCW organized store, would be opening at the development in 2016. It is also one of the proposed sites for the Obama Presidential Library.

“Lakeside Development offers the opportunity for parents to start working now and our children to know they have future jobs in the community. Training and a true relationship with this community is what will make this a reality,” said Yvette Moyo, Coalition member, Programs Coordinator for Black United Fund of Illinois, and South Shore resident of 50 years.

“A CBA is a productive way for the developer to work with the community to ensure that the project is successful for everyone. Residents have great input and are looking at the longevity of the community,” added Angela Hurlock, Coalition member, Executive Director of Claretian Associates, and South Chicago resident for seven years.

The $4 billion project is projected to use more than a half-billion dollars of TIF financing along with many millions in additional public funding. With that amount of taxpayer investment, community members expect quantifiable benefits for local residents. The coalition’s proposal has specific goals and reporting requirements for local hiring and job training, housing affordability standards, environmental protections, and property tax relief for longtime residents.

“This will have a dramatic impact on our communities, and it can either revitalize them if it’s done well, or it can push everyone out,” said Amalia NietoGomez, Executive Director of ASE. “The CBA should be up and running before the first shovel is put in the ground.” 

“Our people have worked here. We have lived here. We have survived the closing of the steel mills, the unemployment, the gangs, and the blight. We want to stay here. Our tax dollars are paying for the development and our community needs to benefit from the development,” summed up Sylvia Ortega, Coalition member, President of the Bush Homeowners and Tenants Association, and South Chicago resident of 51 years.