After Stand Up! Chicago’s Golden Toilet Delivery, CME Returns $15 Million TIF

Taxpayers’ Delivery of Golden Toilet Gets Results

On January 24, dozens of struggling taxpayers marched into the lobby of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange with a gift for its chairman, Terrence Duffy — a shiny golden toilet symbolizing the greed behind the global options-trading giant’s successful efforts to secure over $109 million in taxpayer money in recent years despite raking in record profits.

Protesters had a simple request: that the CME return millions in corporate welfare payouts from the city and state.

The action was covered by the Chicago Tribune and the Huffington Post (see video footage and photos on both, and click here for more photos). In this op-ed in the Chicago Tribune, Stand Up! Chicago policy analyst Elizabeth Parisian warns of the dangerous precedent Illinois set by handing the CME a giant tax break, rewarding the corporate welfare king for its empty threats–at the public’s expense.

Less than a week after the golden toilet protest, the CME announced that it was relinquising the $15 million TIF award from the city.

This is a victory showing that when we speak out together, we can have an impact. While $15 million, if truly invested in community needs, can do a lot of good, that amount is dwarfed by the CME’s new $77 million per year state level tax breaks.

We’ll continue to work with coalition partners and working Chicago families to reclaim even more of our money from the CME and other corporate welfare kings–so that it can be used to create and retain jobs and save our schools and communities.

Stand Up! Chicago Sends Open Letter to Aldermen

Stand Up! Chicago and community and labor groups sent an open letter to Aldermen on Friday, January 13, expressing concern about proposed changes to city ordinances governing free speech rights in Chicago.

Check out the Huffington Post report, and a copy of the letter.

Stand Up! Chicago’s Week of Action in DC to Take Back the Capitol


At 7:30 Friday morning outside Teamster City, hundreds of bleary-eyed Stand Up! Chicago coalition members climbed slowly down from buses, their muscles aching after a 14-hour trek from the nation’s capitol.  But while their bodies were sore and sleep-deprived, their spirits were high.

“In spite of the long ride there and back, and the rain and mud in Washington, I feel good because we sent a message to our elected officials and to all Americans that the time for change is now,” said Jose Tafoya, an unemployed Chicagoan.

The group departed Chicago at 5:30 a.m. Monday with a clear mission for the week: to send a message to Congress that our representatives need to stand up for the needs of the 99% by creating jobs, extending unemployment benefits, raising taxes on the rich, and rejecting budget cuts to essential services. Once in DC, they joined with thousands of others protesters from around the country for a week of action to Take Back The Capitol.

On Tuesday, Stand Up! Chicago occupied five Congressional offices, out of a total of 99 offices occupied simultaneously by jobless people from across the country.   But the Congressmen did everything they could to avoid meeting or engaging with their constituents. Sen. Mark Kirk hid in his office. Rep. Don Manzullo hid in an elevator. Rep. Adam Kinzinger failed to come back from lunch. And Rep. Joe Walsh sneaked down the back stairs while his constituents asked him repeatedly to meet with them.  Watch this video with highlights.

On Wednesday, the focus changed to corporate lobbyists, with Chicagoans playing a leading role in demonstrations and civil disobedience on K Street. “We went to protest at Verizon, but they were so scared of us that they had their doors locked and barricaded,” said Emily Henkels, an unemployed recent college graduate. “So we continued onto K Street.” Watch Stand Up! Chicago take K Street.


And on Thursday, Stand Up! Chicago led a dual protest at House Speaker John Boehner’s offices—with 99 unemployed protesters attempting to speak to the Speaker inside his offices and thousands more supporting them outside the building. Several Chicagoans were at the head of the internal delegation, knocking loudly at the Speaker’s locked doors, while other protesters from Chicago helped contain and direct the masses outside.

Stand Up! Chicago member CJ Hawking on on the Tom Hartmann Show discusses why she took part in Take Back The Capitol week of action.

Check out Stand Up! Chicago on Facebook for more photos and videos.

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