The Weekly: Week Three Recap

Haley Fuller and Anika Mittu

Northwestern students and workers gather for a die-in protest on Sheridan Road to demand protections for University dining workers, Evanston explores alternatives to arresting minors and Sebastian Nalls, a 2018 ETHS graduate, is running for mayor. Listen to this episode of The Weekly to hear directly from the editors and reporters who covered our recent top stories.

HALEY FULLER: From The Daily Northwestern, I’m Haley Fuller.

ANIKA MITTU: And I’m Anika Mittu. This is The Weekly, a podcast that breaks down our top headlines each week.

HALEY FULLER: First up, Northwestern students and employees held a die-in on Sheridan road last Thursday to demand COVID-19 health protections for the University’s dining workers.

ANIKA MITTU: Meanwhile in Evanston, Sebastian Nalls, a 2018 ETHS graduate, is running for mayor in the upcoming mayoral election.

HALEY FULLER: And lastly, a sudden rise in juvenile arrests has prompted new solutions to prevent minors from going through the juvenile court system. Stay with us to hear directly from the reporters and editors who covered these stories.

ANIKA MITTU: Over the course of the pandemic, hundreds of Northwestern’s dining workers have been laid off. Meanwhile, employees who have kept their jobs on campus still face health risks from working.

HALEY FULLER: UNITE HERE Local 1 is the union advocating for Northwestern’s dining and service workers. It sponsored a petition in September that demands protections for employees, including quarantine and hazard pay for working employees, as well as health insurance contributions for laid-off workers. Currently, health insurance contributions for laid-off workers are set to end at the end of October.

ANIKA MITTU: To draw more attention to the demands, Northwestern workers and student allies participated in a die-in on the sidewalk between Sheridan Road and Deering Meadow. On one side of the road, protestors yelled “SALUD,” or “health” in Spanish. On the other side, protesters played dead by laying on the sidewalk motionless for seven minutes and 28 seconds — one second for the more than 440 workers and family members that rely on Northwestern’s food service provider, Compass Group, to ensure safety and compensation. Here to break down some of the demands is Campus Editor Isabelle Sarraf. Isabelle, can you explain quarantine pay and hazard pay?

ISABELLE SARRAF: Quarantine pay would essentially guarantee that if a worker were to come in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID, or let’s say the government required them to quarantine for two weeks, a quarantine pay would guarantee normal wages for those two weeks that they had to stay home. And then there’s also a hazard pay or a COVID pay, which is an increased wage for those who are working for the time being, because of the increased cost and risks associated with working amid a pandemic.

ANIKA MITTU: What are some concerns workers have shared with you about coming in to work?

ISABELLE SARRAF: I think I talked to one worker at some point who said she had a co-worker who had cancer who didn’t want to come in because God forbid she got COVID, or someone I talked to yesterday actually had a cholesterol issue. So, people with pre-existing conditions don’t want to come into work. And a lot of these demands that UNITE HERE Local 1 is pushing for would essentially guarantee workers compensation or their job security without having to worry about risking their lives.

ANIKA MITTU: In the article, a Compass spokesperson said that the union’s proposal seeks a 41 percent increase in compensation in the first year, which would increase meal plan costs by $1,200 per student. How has Compass reacted to the demands so far?

ISABELLE SARRAF: Their main response was that they obviously regret having to reduce their staff, and they wrote to me that they understand the hardships that it’s placed in their team and their families. They did mention that they’ve taken steps to assist their workers impacted by COVID. Like, by providing them with free groceries or counseling them on how to file unemployment or financial aid through the CARES Act and other forms of assistance. However, the message they sent about how the proposal seeks a huge jump in compensation does show you that there’s a lot of back and forth going on right now in terms of these contract negotiations. And all the while, workers are just out here trying to live their lives in the middle of a pandemic with no money coming in.

ANIKA MITTU: Thank you so much for coming on, Isabelle.

HALEY FULLER: This week, City Editor Jacob Fulton spoke with mayoral candidate Sebastian Nalls. Jacob, can you explain the timeline for Evanston local elections?

JACOB FULTON: Basically, the process for the mayoral election in Evanston began in August. Starting on August 25, the petitioning period began and any person who’s interested in running for mayor or any aldermanic position, as well as the city clerk, has to collect a certain amount of signatures — for the mayor, it’s at least 921 to show support for their campaign. And then if there’s at least two mayoral candidates running, then the candidates need to participate in the mayoral primary, this year that takes place on February 23. And after the primary, the general election occurs on April 6.

HALEY FULLER: Thanks so much for that explanation. Can you tell us a little bit more about Nalls and who he’s running against?

JACOB FULTON: Sebastian has been an Evanston resident for almost his entire life. He’s a 2018 Evanston Township High School graduate, he’s 20 years old, and he’s currently a junior at Purdue. As of now, another notable figure we know that’s running is former state senator and former gubernatorial candidate Daniel Biss. Current mayor Steve Hagerty hasn’t yet announced whether he’s running again, but Nalls is definitely going to be up against some stiff competition with Biss at the very least.

HALEY FULLER: So you said he’s a recent ETHS graduate. Did you get to hear any anecdotes about what his time was like there?

JACOB FULTON: When I spoke to his basketball coach, he said that during his senior year, Sebastian was the team’s manager, and the team that year, made it all the way to the state Final Four. And during the Final Four game, the team was down by a lot. But Sebastian, as the team’s manager, sort of stepped up and he gave a really powerful speech that motivated the team again, and his Coach Rudy Meo said that that speech was just really a moment that has stuck out to him in all his years of coaching.

HALEY FULLER: What experience would he bring to the job?

JACOB FULTON: He’s been really involved with the community his entire life. He’s served in the Parks and Recreation department for six summers in a row. The past two summers, he’s run two different summer programs. So he said that he’s really building on his community knowledge and his care for the city of Evanston to connect people and find the best ways to serve them. He said that as a young person, he has very unique experiences and very personal experiences with issues such as racial justice and policing as well as the current pandemic that will sort of bring a new perspective to the issues that he says the city needs.

HALEY FULLER: That’s amazing that he’s already had that impact, it’ll be interesting to keep an eye on this race. Thanks for coming on today, Jacob.

JACOB FULTON: Of course. Thank you so much for having me on.

HALEY FULLER: In 2019, the number of minors who were arrested suddenly rose to 112, after an average of 76 arrests of minors in 2017 and 2018. This year, Evanston and the Evanston Police Department have been implementing alternatives to arresting minors in Evanston. We talked to city reporter Daisy Conant about what changes the city is seeing.

DAISY CONANT: In an August 31 conversation hosted by Mayor Hagerty, Police Chief Cook said that he heard stories from a number of different Black youth in Evanston, who had been negatively impacted by policing practices. And he said something along the lines of, “We’ve caused too much harm for too long. And it is my hope that we can have no juveniles in the station.” The reason that a statement like this was encouraging and caught the attention of people like Betsy Clarke, who’s the president of JJI (Juvenile Justice Initiative), is because over the past 10 years, there has been a decline in the number of arrests of minors. However, last year, they saw a spike, both in arrests and the cases that they brought against youth in the community. And so, for Clark, this caught her attention in a good way. And she said, “I’m really glad that the police chief said this, that he acknowledges that this is a problem, that he wants to find other alternatives.”

HALEY FULLER: So, one of the alternatives to preventing the arrests of minors is the C-ticket, can you explain what that is?

DAISY CONANT: When EPD is faced with arresting a minor, they have the option of issuing what’s called a C-ticket, where possible and appropriate, for a myriad of non-violent ordinance offenses and misdemeanors. So they can cite youth for low-level offenses, instead of arresting them. Essentially what it is, is the child goes into City Hall. They work with a staff member there, a social worker there, to go through their case and determine what the best kind of restorative outcome would be in the situation that works for both the child and their family as well as the individual, or whatever entity the child caused harm to that caused the citation to come on them in the first place.

HALEY FULLER: And how often has this system been used?

DAISY CONANT: EPD has issued 19 of these referrals so far, which is low compared to the fact that they arrested over 100 kids in 2019 and they only used this 19 times. But Patrick Keenan-Devlin, who is the executive director of the (James B.) Moran Center for Youth Advocacy, still sees that as a good initial indicator that there’s progress (towards harm mitigation.)

HALEY FULLER: How do other community members feel about Cook’s statement?

DAISY CONANT: So I also spoke to two organizers from Evanston Fight for Black Lives, Sarah (Bogan) and Mollie (Hartenstein), who weren’t as confident. And they were telling me that while, of course, they want less youth to be arrested in Evanston, they don’t want any youth to be arrested in Evanston, they don’t want anyone to be arrested in Evanson, period, they don’t believe that arrest is the best option. And they were explaining to me from their point of view that something like this — focusing action and policy on limiting the arrest of minors — is very reactive. And that there needs to be proactive solutions as well, and so they wanted to see more of an emphasis on that.

ANIKA MITTU: From The Daily Northwestern, I’m Anika Mittu.

HALEY FULLER: And I’m Haley Fuller. That’s it for this episode of The Weekly, we’ll see you next Monday.

ANIKA MITTU: This episode was reported by Isabelle Sarraf, Jacob Fulton, Daisy Conant Haley Fuller and myself, Anika Mittu. This episode was produced by both Haley Fuller and myself. The audio editor of The Daily Northwestern is Alex Chun, the digital managing editors are Molly Lubbers and Jacob Ohara, and the editor in chief is Marissa Martinez.

Email: [email protected] and [email protected]
Twitter: @haley_fuller_ and @anika_mittu

Stories Referenced:
“That’s who we are as Evanston”: Mayoral candidate Sebastian Nalls hopes to build community, inclusivity if elected
Civic leaders, organizers discuss impact of EPD limiting practice of arresting minors
Workers, students stage die-in protest supporting COVID-19 health and safety demands