GMQC Road Trip Photo Scrapbook

OGLESBY, Illinois- We have collected a bunch of pictures from year two of the Good Morning Quad Cities Road Trip, thanks to Shabbona Creek RV. Here are some of the pictures of the trip so far, categorized by date, from beginning to end. To see the diary of our television live shots, click here. To see how to win a trip to the Starved Rock Lodge and Conference Center, click here.


Friday, May 18: Brandon Green and I bought our food at Walmart, and let’s just say…the two of us are carnivores…

We also like water and LaCroix Sparkling Water?


Sunday, May 20: We packed (lightly I may add) and jumped in the Shabbona Creek RV.

Brandon’s driving…I’m definitely not.

And I’m driving him nuts at the same time…


Monday, May 21: We start doing our live shots, and we took photos of ourselves:

And after our morning live shots…it’s time for Brandon to go to sleep…and for me to bother him again.


Tuesday, May 22, we take a shot of the historic Starved Rock at the park. (It’s where that flag is way in the distance).

Fareway: Chicken Caesar Salad Steak Sandwich

Caesar Salad Sandwich

* 1 lb top sirloin steak

* 1/2 cup Caesar dressing

* 2 cups chopped romaine lettuce

* 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

* 4 hoagie rolls



Cut beef steak lengthwise in half, then crosswise into 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick strips. Reserve 2 tablespoons dressing. Pour remaining dressing in medium bowl. Add beef; toss to coat. Cover and marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes to 2 hours.

Remove beef from marinade; discard marinade. Heat large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add 1/2 of beef; stir-fry 1 to 2 minutes or until outside surface of beef is no longer pink. (Do not overcook.) Remove from skillet; keep warm. Repeat with remaining beef.

Toss lettuce with reserved dressing and 2 tablespoons cheese in medium bowl. Divide evenly over bottom of each roll. Top with beef; sprinkle with remaining cheese. Close sandwiches.

Iowa’s Maddie Poppe wins American Idol

CLARKSVILLE, Iowa -- Clarksville native Maddie Poppe made history Monday night, becoming the first Iowan to become an American Idol.

Maddie outlasted 23 other contestants to take the title. She made her final performances Sunday night along with the other two finalists, Caleb Hutchinson and Gabby Barrett. Americans voted for their favorite, and Maddie collected the most votes.

She wins a recording contract and a $250,000 cash prize.

Maddie broke down in tears at the announcement of her victory, and sang her new single, "Going Going Gone."

People in her hometown gathered at Pete and Shorty's to watch the finale. They say they've known she was a star long before the cameras and lights.

Dan Doty said he's known Maddie for awhile because she's friends with his daughter. He said, "we knew she was very talented even as a young kid you know seventh, eighth grade."

Tanner Fenneman said he remembers the first time he heard Maddie sing. "I remember when her and her sister sang it was like wow these girls can sing. And turns out they can."

Young Tanner Lorenz predicted her win before the finale began, saying, "Maddie Poppe is the next American Idol."

And Aidan Doty said, "she's a good singer and all of Clarksville, Iowa loves her."

Mike Kramer said the sky is now the limit for Maddie. "Really fun to watch. A heck of a journey and proud of her."

This article was originally published on KCRG.

Ready for changes? Foggy, then sunny, then hot

We will have patchy dense fog through 10am today before skies become mostly sunny. Temperatures will top out around 80 degrees again today with tolerable levels of humidity. Winds will be fairly light today into tonight which could allow more fog to form.

Mostly sunny skies are expected for Wednesday with temperatures in the 80s. Temps could near the 90 degree mark by Friday and Saturday. However, we could have some cooling rains and thunderstorms. There may even be some prospects for severe weather Friday-Sunday. But it appears all of this will be out of our system by Memorial Day.

-Meteorologist Eric Sorensen

WQAD Sports May 21st


- 2017 John Deere Classic Champ, Bryson DeChambeau Returns For Media Day.

- Chasson Randle Wins Euro Championship

- Steamwheelers Clinch A Playoff Spot With The Help Of A Familiar Face.

- Geneseo Gets Big Playoff Win

- River Bandits Lose A Close One

Davenport School Board rejects proposal to close a high school, looks to rural schools instead

DAVENPORT--  Five out of seven board members in the Davenport School District agree that Superintendent Art Tate’s Vision 20/20 plan should not include closing North, West or Central high Schools.

Instead the board is looking towards schools on the rural schools outside Davenport’s city limits, to save money.

Board members agree that looking to consolidate Walcott, Blue Grass and Buffalo elementary schools would make more sense.

“We have three buildings that are barely at 50 percent compacity.  I propose we close Blue Grass Elementary,” says board member Julie DeSalvo

In the last 10 years the district has lost about 1,000 students and it expects to lose 600 more in the next five years. The decrease in student enrollment and tighter budget restriction is causing the district to make the hard cuts.

These latest discussions regarding the Vision 20/20 plan comes less than six months before the district has to present the plan to the School Budget Review Committee.

Parents speak out against Vision 20/20 plans to close a Davenport school

In addition to a school closing, the plan also calls for transportation and class schedule changes as well.

“There are a lot of dominos that are going to fall no matter what decision we make. We need to make sure that we’ve checked on all those dominos and we’re not going to have unattended consequences,” says board member Allison Beck.

Vision 20/20 plan: pushing back school start times

School administrators plan to review the most recent school closure proposal and present the board with a more detailed plan in about two weeks.

YOUR HEALTH: New, more effective glaucoma treatment

MIAMI, Florida – Ryan Hilliker was born with a rare disorder called Sturge-Weber Syndrome.

"I came out I was half red so there was a little bit of shock there."

In addition to the trademark port-wine stain, Ryan was diagnosed with glaucoma in his right eye.

"The bottom 50 percent of the eye is just darkness, it`s blindness.'

"Glaucoma is an eye disease," explained optometric physician Dr. Nathan Klein.  "It's typically when the pressure in the person's eye gets too high.'

Now for the first time in 20 years there's something new on the market.

It's called Vyzulta by Bausch and Lomb.  Doctors say it works by using two pathways to increase the drainage of fluid in the eye.

Doctors say one drop of Vyzulta a day is showing a dramatic difference.

"We saw an additional 20 percent decrease in pressure after a week and a half," said Dr. Klein.

When Michael Sibble was diagnosed with glaucoma it kept him up at night.

"Being blind and can't see my kids, I didn't sleep for like a month."

But since taking Vyzulta, his eye pressure went from 17, near the high end of a normal range, to just 13, which is considered normal.

Ryan also saw a dramatic drop in just days.

"With Vyzulta, the difference was in a five day period a massive drop in pressure from 23 to 14."

Saving his sight so he too can watch his kids grow up.

Vyzulta was just approved by the FDA.

'With Vyzulta, it's actually working on both drains," said Dr. Klein who explained most other drops work on only one of the two different mechanisms for liquid outflow in the eye.

"This is causing that pressure to come way down and stay way down," explained Dr. Klein.

He said when patients were using an eye drop called Prostaglandin, they were only seeing between 20% and 30% reduction in the pressure.

"Often that`s not enough," he added.  "With Vyzulta we're getting much better results, 30% to 40% with the
same single drop, both eyes in the evening."

Some drug store chains are offering a special deal through the Vyzulta website.

If you have insurance, a two month supply will cost about $30.  Without insurance, it's about $70 for a two month supply.

If this story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at jim.mertens@wqad.com or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com.


Proposed ferry could help Sabula and Savanna residents cope with bridge closure

SABULA, Iowa -- A little relief might finally be on the way for the beleaguered residents of Sabula and Savanna, who have been unable to cross the Mississippi between their two towns since March.

The closure means what was once a few-minute trip between the Iowa and Illinois side now involves a 30-mile plus detour through Clinton and Fulton. The bridge connection was supposed to be restored in May, but unexpected construction issues mean there will be no connection until later this fall. That news has caused considerable consternation among business owners and residents in both towns, which rely on cross-river commerce and services.

Now, Iowa DOT leaders say they have found a contractor that can provide a free ferry service until construction wraps up around Labor Day.


The US has had 57 times as many school shootings as the other major industrialized nations combined

(CNN) — School shootings are a reality in America, an average of one a week just this year alone.

But how does the US compare with other countries in the world?

That’s difficult to ascertain because very little research exists to quantify that.

For the purposes of this analysis, we followed the criteria below –

The scope: First, we looked at the G7 countries — the countries with the largest advanced economies in the world.

The countries are Canada, the US, Japan, Germany, Italy, France, the UK.

The time period: From January 1, 2009 to May 21, 2018.

The definition: The parameters we followed in this count are –

  • Shooting must involve at least one person being shot (not including the shooter)
  • Shooting must occur on school grounds
  • We included gang violence, fights and domestic violence (but our count is NOT limited to those categories)
  • We included grades K through college/university level as well as vocational schools
  • We included accidental discharge of a firearm as long as the first two parameters are met

The analysis: For US stats, CNN reviewed media reports and a variety of databases including those from the Gun Violence Archive and Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems. For international stats, we looked at local and national media reports.

The caveat: Reporting on non-fatal school shootings is not always available. There may be additional school shootings with injuries that did not make it into the newspaper or digital publications, and therefore aren’t counted in databases that rely on media reports. This is true for shootings in the US and overseas.

What we found:

There have been at least 288 school shootings in the United States since January 1, 2009.

That’s 57 times as many shootings as the other six G7 countries combined.

Broadening out the list

Next, we wanted to broaden our list out to include some countries that were mentioned in a few of the viral posts that were going around this weekend.

In some of the incidents, the casualty count is very high (the Peshawar siegethe Kenya attack). But when it comes to the frequency of attacks, the US still leads by a wide margin.

In a superhero cape, he feeds the hungry and homeless. And he’s only 4

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Austin Perine’s superhero cape glides and flutters as he hands chicken sandwiches to homeless men outside a shelter in Birmingham, Alabama.

It’s a sweltering 95 degrees outside, but at age four, Austin is undeterred. The red satin cape he wears, he says, makes him go faster. “It blows in the wind,” he explains with a smile.

At the shelter, he’s quickly met with a merriment of high-fives and pats on the shoulder. Since March, he’s become a familiar face to the homeless men and women congregated on the sidewalk outside the Firehouse Ministries’ red brick building.

With the help of his dad, TJ Perine, Austin drops off meals on a weekly basis, or as he calls it “giving food and smiles.”

“It’s because of you that I want to be a better person,” a homeless man tells the boy. “You’re showing love, everywhere you go, right?”

“I am,” responds Austin, handing him a paper-wrapped sandwich and a cold drink.

He’s wearing his “work outfit” — all blue — sneakers, shorts and a t-shirt, glitzed up by bright red tights and a cape. The catchphrase “#ShowLove” is emblazoned in bold red letters across his chest.

“Show love means, you care about someone no matter what they look like,” he’s quick to explain. “Show Love” is his superhero motto, he says.

“He likes being called a superhero,” the father explains. “He’s his own entity — ‘President Austin.’ He doesn’t like being called Superman.”

Asked what are the pillars of President Austin’s agenda, Austin answers without hesitation:

“I would chase the bad guys out of school and feed the homeless.”

The genesis story

“Austin is just a compassionate kid,” the boy’s proud dad says. “He just wants to see everybody happy.”

That compassion is centered around Austin’s older brother Taylor, 16, who struggles with autism. “He’s always been a nurturer of his brother,” Perine says. “He’s kind of like a little dad to him.”

In March, that compassion sparked an emotional response to a baby panda Austin saw on TV.

“Austin and I were watching an animal show and there was a mother panda that was leaving her cubs,” recalls Perine. “Austin began to get concerned, and I told him that the panda would be homeless.”

Austin didn’t know the meaning of the word “homeless.”

“And my dad said, it’s somebody who doesn’t have a home or mom and dad around,” he says.

“I wanted it to have a home,” Austin says, holding a kid’s story book about zoo animals. A panda cub’s face takes an entire page and Austin pokes at its nose with his finger. “It’s flat,” he says giggling.

Putting his plan into action

Wishing to show Austin the meaning of homelessness, Perine took him to see the city shelter.

“He said, ‘Can we feed them?” Perine says of that first day at the shelter. “I didn’t expect to feed homeless people that day. But when a 4-year-old asks you, what can you say?”

So they headed to Burger King and picked up an order of chicken sandwiches. Austin agreed to use his allowance to buy food instead of a weekly toy.

As word of Austin’s mission spread, he became something of a local celebrity, appearing in TV shows, news article and social media posts.

Burger King gave him a $1,000 monthly allowance for a year so he could fulfill his mission, a spokesman for the company said.

Birmingham’s mayor, Randall Woodfin, calls him “the City’s ambassador.” He told CNN that Austin’s story “is one of hope.”

“It’s one of our younger generation that gets it and understands the importance of helping others. And it’s one that we all want to cherish and make of importance which is showing love.”

The superhero mission

“It really brightens our day and warms our heart to see that little superhero cape come up the building and that sweet, sweet voice,” says Firehouse Ministries director Anne Rygiel.

The shelter serves about 5,000 men, women and children a year. Most are what she describes as “food insecure.”

“That’s a lot that we do with very little resources, so we rely heavily in the community,” Ryegiel says.

Perine hopes the attention his son has received will have a positive impact on the community.

“We’ve gotten a lot of support from the country, and what we want to do is expand from more than just giving out sandwiches.”

His vision is to build a facility that addresses the many causes of homelessness.

“Mental illness, drug abuse, addiction, and things like that,” he says. “Austin and I want to build a facility and get some specialists in there that can actually help these people get back into the workforce.”

In the meantime, on any given day, the boy wonder with the flowing cape will make his rounds, spreading smiles, passing out food and reminding all within earshot “don’t forget to show love.”

Netflix announces multi-year production deal with the Obamas

Barack and Michelle Obama will work both in front of and behind the camera in a multi-year production deal with Netflix.

The unique pact was announced on Monday. The first content from the Obamas will appear in 2019 at the earliest, according to a person involved in the deal.

Netflix did not specify a timeline. But the company’s announcement of the deal said “the Obamas will produce a diverse mix of content, including the potential for scripted series, unscripted series, docu-series, documentaries and features.”

Sometimes the former president and first lady will be on camera as hosts or moderators, the source said on condition of anonymity. In other cases they will stay behind the scenes as producers.

Financial terms were not disclosed. The Obamas are giving Netflix valuable content that many of the streaming service’s 125 million members may want to watch. And Netflix is giving the Obamas a valuable platform to stay visible in their post-White House years.

The Obamas said Monday that they want to harness “the power of storytelling” to promote common values.

“We hope to cultivate and curate the talented, inspiring, creative voices who are able to promote greater empathy and understanding between peoples, and help them share their stories with the entire world,” Barack Obama said in a statement.

“Netflix’s unparalleled service is a natural fit for the kinds of stories we want to share, and we look forward to starting this exciting new partnership,” Michelle Obama added.

The Obamas now need to hire a team of producers. They have set up a company called Higher Ground Productions “as the entity under which they will produce content for Netflix,” Netflix said.

These types of exclusive production partnerships are common in Hollywood — in fact, Netflix has been attracting a bevy of A-listers, including Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy.

But this is a first-of-its-kind deal for a former U.S. president.

The talks with Netflix were first reported back in March.

Back then, The New York Times described two potential shows. In one, “Mr. Obama could moderate conversations on topics that dominated his presidency.” Another show “could feature Mrs. Obama on topics, like nutrition, that she championed in the White House.”

In the final days of the Obama administration, it was reported that Obama was interested in pursuing digital media ventures after he left office.

Jen Psaki, the White House communications director at the time, told CNN that “he is very interested in how people consume information and the changing trends,” citing online and mobile news consumption.

McDonald’s employees rally for $15 minimum wage

OAK BROOK, Ill. - Dozens of McDonald's employees and community activists gathered Monday at McDonald's headquarters to protest for $15 minimum wage, WGNtv is reporting.

The protest comes three days before McDonald's annual shareholders meeting.

Employees claim the company has a record of blocking raises, which hurt minority workers. McDonald’s has been a target for the Fight for 15 Movement for years. The movement pushes for increased pay and union rights.

WGN reached out to McDonald's for comment but got no response.

The rally will move from headquarters in Oak Brook to Springfield this afternoon.

Protesters plan to present a letter of demands to company executives. The group will then organize a sit-in at the rotunda of the capitol building to get the attention of McDonald's and state lawmakers.

The Fight for 15 campaign coincides with the Poor People's campaign. This protest is a part of many other marches and rallies set over a six-week period all over the country.

The marches will lead up to a larger rally in Washington, D.C. on June 23.


‘Did you say ‘Mama?” 5-year-old with nonverbal autism says first word, surprising parents

ATHENS, Ala. -- A child's first word is always a major milestone, but for families with nonverbal children, it's one that can seem out of reach.

Taylor Blankenship is 5 years old and has nonverbal autism.

"So many people take for granted that their kids talk to them, or they talk them to death," said Taylor's mom, Briana Blankenship. "They're tired of hearing 'Mama' 30 times a day. They don't realize that there are parents like us that literally dream that their kids are going to do that. That they're going to wake up and their kid is going to be asking them like for juice, or anything."

Taylor's brain processes information differently than most. She has been in speech therapy since she was 3. Much to Briana's surprise, Taylor said her first word last month. Taylor said 'Mama' while they were waiting in a drive-thru.

"I heard her say it, and I whipped around, and I'm just like, 'Did you just say Mama?' And she said it again. And I was like, 'Oh my God!'"

Briana posted a video of Taylor saying her first word on her Facebook. It has since gone viral.

Briana says she hopes the video inspires other families with nonverbal children. The next word on the list for Taylor to learn is Dada.

Why the Santa Fe shooting suspect cannot get the death penalty or life without parole

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(CNN) — Speaking outside a church not far from Santa Fe High School on Sunday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said his hope was that the 17-year-old accused of killing 10 people there gets “swift Texas justice.”

But no matter the legal case ahead, that Texas justice will not include the death penalty. In fact, the harshest punishment the suspect can receive is life with the possibility of parole.

That’s due to his age and two Supreme Court cases.

“The way it works is there’s only one possibility, if he is found guilty,” Robert Barfield, attorney for the suspect, told CNN on Sunday. “It’s life in prison with the possibility of parole because of his age.”

Suspect Dimitrios Pagourtzis, 17, is being held on charges of capital murder and aggravated assault on a public servant. The Santa Fe student allegedly used a shotgun and a revolver to kill eight students and two teachers and injure 13 others. Pagourtzis confessed that he acted alone in the shooting, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Why juveniles cannot get the death penalty

Rulings by the US Supreme Court fit a pattern in the past few decades of the justices limiting punishments for those who committed crimes when they were younger than 18.

The ruling in the 2005 case Roper v. Simmons banned the death penalty for juvenile offenders. By a 5-4 vote, the court ruled that the death penalty for perpetrators under the age of 18 constituted “cruel and unusual punishment” and so violated the 8th amendment of the Constitution.

In addition, the Supreme Court ruled in the 2012 case Miller v. Alabama that states cannot give juvenile offenders life without parole as a mandatory sentence. That, too, was a 5-4 decision.

Under Texas law, the maximum sentence for capital murder for those under 18 is a life sentence that allows for the prisoner to apply for parole after 40 years, according to Robert Dunham of the Death Penalty Information Center.

He clarified that, under this law, the inmate has the right to apply for parole after 40 years but is still unlikely to actually be granted an early release.

Prior to the Roper ruling, Texas led the nation in executing people who committed capital crimes as juveniles, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. Across the United States, 22 people who were juvenile offenders were executed between the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976 and the Roper ruling in 2005. Thirteen of those executed were in Texas, with the most recent execution in 2002.

Given Pagourtzis’ alleged confession and the limits of any future sentence, Barfield said it was too early to discuss the legal strategy for his client going forward.

“That’s what the discovery process is for, to see if there is anything we can do for our client in that aspect,” Barfield said.

Summer warmth, humidity on target for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend

Clouds ruled the roost today and combined with an easterly wind temperatures stayed below the norm for the second straight day with highs around 70.  This is only the 5th time we’ve seen numbers below norm.

With winds fairly light and skies slowly improving, patchy fog may pop up in a few spots as overnight lows drop around the mid 50s.

Tuesday will be dry and fairly sunny as temperatures inch up around the upper 70s.

We’ll then be adding a bit more warmth and humidity in the coming days which could set off  isolated chances of showers, maybe a thunderstorm.  This chance will extend at least until the start of the Memorial Day weekend.   No washout by any means.  In fact, skies will become brighter and less humid by the time Monday, Memorial Day arrives.

Could reach  90 degrees Friday and/or Saturday, with 90+ heat index values likely as well.

Chief meteorologist James Zahara

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Frontier Airlines passenger reportedly gropes woman, then urinates on seat in front of him

DENVER – When Frontier Airlines Flight 864 left Denver on Thursday bound for Charleston, South Carolina, it started out like any other flight.

By the time it landed, passengers describe the flight from hell.

“I got a seat on the back of the plane where I could just lay down and fall asleep,” a passenger named Emily from Los Angeles told KDVR.

About two hours into the flight, she said she woke up in a panic.

“I hear a woman scream if this man f***ing touches me one more time I’ll f***ing kill him,” she said.

According to Emily, a drunk male passenger grabbed the woman he was seated next to.

“She said that he ordered two double shots of vodka, so four drinks while they were sitting there,” she said. “He was out of his mind. Like he couldn’t speak, he was mumbling. This man was extremely intoxicated.”

The flight crew reportedly moved the man to the back of the plane where there was an empty row. It was across the aisle from Emily’s seat. She said the flight crew warned her about the male passenger.

“They bring the man to the back across from me so they said you might want to get up just in case he tries to touch you,” Emily said.

She said she took out her phone to take a picture of the man to show her girlfriends. That is when she said the flight went from bad to worse.

“While I have my phone out trying to take a discreet photo, he starts to pee and urinate on the seat in front of him,” she said.

Emily also caught that on her phone. A stream can be seen coming from the man and hitting the back of the seat near the seatback pocket.

“And I scream, he’s f***ing peeing. He’s peeing. Oh my god. And the flight attendant doesn’t even acknowledge him at first. Acknowledges me and says you need to calm down and stop cursing,” she said.

Emily said she was moved to the front of the plane, her bag fees were waived and she was a given a $200 Frontier voucher.

But she said she believes the airline needed to do more to prevent the unruly passenger from acting out.

“I think they handled it extremely poorly,” she said. “Someone should have sat with him.”

“The safety and security of our passengers is our top priority at Frontier," the airline said in a statement. "We have been made aware of this situation and are working with the appropriate authorities.”

Emily also captured a photo of what appears to be the same passenger in handcuffs being walked through the airport by Police.

The Charleston Police Department did not return calls for comment.

Supreme Court sides with employers in class action arbitration cases

(CNN) — In a victory for employers and the Trump administration, the Supreme Court on Monday said that employers could block employees from banding together as a class to fight legal disputes in employment arbitration agreements.

Justice Neil Gorsuch delivered the opinion for the 5-4 majority, his first major opinion since joining the court last spring and a demonstration of how the Senate Republicans’ move to keep liberal nominee Merrick Garland from being confirmed in 2016 has helped cement a conservative court.

“This is the Justice Gorsuch that I think most everyone expected,” said Steve Vladeck, CNN contributor and professor of law at the University of Texas School of Law. “Not only is he endorsing the conservative justices’ controversial approach to arbitration clauses, but he’s taking it an important step further by extending that reasoning to employment agreements, as well.”

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg took the rare step of reading her dissent from the bench, calling the majority opinion in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis “egregiously wrong.”

“The court today holds enforceable these arm-twisted, take-it-or-leave-it contracts — including the provisions requiring employees to litigate wage and hours claims only one-by-one. Federal labor law does not countenance such isolation of employees,” she said.

In the majority opinion, Gorsuch maintained the “decision does nothing to override” what Congress has done.

“Congress has instructed that arbitration agreements like those before us must be enforced as written,” he said.

As the dissent recognizes, the legislative policy embodied in the (National Labor Relations Act) is aimed at ‘safeguard[ing], first and foremost, workers’ rights to join unions and to engage in collective bargaining,” he wrote. “Those rights stand every bit as strong today as they did yesterday.”

Gorusch, responding to Ginsburg’s claim that the court’s decision would resurrect so-called “yellow dog” contracts which barred an employee from joining a union, said that “like most apocalyptic warnings, this one proves a false alarm.”

The case was the biggest business case of the term, and represented a clash between employers who prefer to handle disputes through arbitration against employees who want to be able to band together to bring their challenges and not be required to sign class action bans.

It also pitted two federal laws against each other.

One, the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), gives employees the right to self organization to “engage in concerted activities for the purpose of mutual aid or protection” the other, the 1925 Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) allows employers to “settle by arbitration.”

Lawyers for employers, who have long backed arbitration as a means of resolving disputes, argued that class action waivers are permissible under the 1925 law. They say the NLRA does not contain a congressional command precluding enforcement of the waivers.

The Trump administration supported the employers in the case, a switch from the Obama administration’s position.

Impact of ruling

“Today’s ruling is a major blow for the rights of employees, who almost never have enough of an interest, by themselves, to take the time and resources to litigate claims against their employers — especially claims concerning underpayment of wages,” Vladeck said.

The court has approved some collective action bans in consumer contracts, and employers hoped for the same fate when it comes to employer contracts.

One of the three consolidated cases before the court concerned a grievance claim brought by an employee of a healthcare software company called Epic Systems Corporation. The employee, Jacob Lewis, sought to sue Epic in federal court on behalf of a group of employees who claimed the company had denied them overtime pay. Epic sought to dismiss the complaint arguing that Lewis had waived his right to pursue joint legal claims.

Neal Katyal, a lawyer for Epic, argued in court papers,” like other contracts, employment contracts may require that arbitration be conducted on an individual basis.” Lawyers for the employees, on the other hand, said the NLRA precludes such waivers.

Workers don’t like the waivers because it’s much more expensive — and at times intimidating — to bring individual claims.

The employees have the support of the National Labor Relations Board, an independent federal agency that protects the rights of private sector employees to join together to improve working conditions.

At oral arguments, the justices seemed closely divided along ideological lines. Justice Stephen Breyer worried that if the employers were to prevail they would be “overturning labor law that goes back to, for FDR at least, the entire heart of the New Deal.”

At one point, Chief Justice John Roberts asked Ortiz, a lawyer for the workers, whether a decision in his favor would “invalidate agreements covering 25 million employees”

Family of four escapes burning van on Interstate 80

RAPIDS CITY, Illinois — A family of four – including a pair of two-year-old toddlers – managed to escape a vehicle fire on Interstate 80 just over the Iowa-Illinois border bridge that completely incinerated their van.

Shortly before 3 p.m. a van driven by Alan Lopez, 35, of Buffalo Grove, Illinois began experiencing mechanical issues, according to a media release from Illinois State Police. Lopez pulled over to the shoulder at mile marker 1 on I-80, just over the river from Pleasant Valley, and the van caught fire.

Photo courtesy Spencer Brecht

In moments, the van was completely engulfed in flames. Both ISP and area fire departments arrived on scene to battle the blaze, which sent plumes of black smoke into the sky that could be seen for miles. No one in the van was injured.

The fire caused intermittent lane closures on the interstate for a couple of hours. The van was eventually towed from the scene, which was fully cleared with traffic resuming normally by 4:30 p.m.

East Moline woman’s eye for trash inspires others to help clean the QC

EAST MOLINE, Illinois -- Lisa Heaton is a mission to clean the planet, one piece of trash at a time.

The self-proclaimed nature advocate said she spends a few nights each week cleaning up local woods and parks.

On Thursday, May 17 Lisa worked on Wiman Park in East Moline. In just 30 minutes she had a full bag of trash, collecting things like bottles, cans, plastic wrappings, a fishing bobber and a tire.

She said her passion for a cleaner Earth came from her time volunteering at the Niabi Zoo in the fall of 2017.  That's where she learned about conservation issues impacting the planet.  Things like how 1.4 billion pounds of trash wind up in the oceans each year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 

"I love nature, and anytime I went out to explore it I was being distracted by shiny objects... and it was at that point I decided if I didn't like the scenery, then I needed to be the one who needed to change it," she said.

In addition to cleaning the Quad Cities area, Lisa said she often takes weekend trips out of state to clean other landscapes.  Her long-term goal is to have cleaned up trash in all 50 states.

And when she started telling others about her endeavors, more people started to take notice.

"I've noticed a lot of my friends or people I've talked to about it say I've never noticed until you said something about it," Lisa said.

Inspired by Lisa's mission, a group of her coworkers and their families took action. They decided to do a group cleanup twice each month, beginning their efforts at their workplace, Dohrn Transfer.  At their first cleanup, they gathered 250 pounds of trash in one hour.

With plans to clean on the second and fourth Thursday of each month, they've invited others to join.  Click here to go to their Facebook page, where you can write a wall post to ask for more information.

If you know of an area that's been heavily littered, you can email Lisa at "qcpollutionsolution@gmail.com".

Follow Lisa's trash pick-up journey on Instagram, click here.

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