Chicago parent and community groups hold a press conference in front of the mayor's office to support the Chicago Teachers Union in 2016. Credit: James Foster/For the Sun-Times

Welcome to the Reader‘s morning briefing for Wednesday, May 31, 2017.

  • Chicago Teachers Union considering merging with charter school union

The Chicago Teachers Union is in talks to merge with Chicago ACTS Local 4343, which represents Chicago charter school employees. Both unions will need to approve the move, which would make Chicago ACTS and its more than 1,000 members into a CTU division. “We believe that unification is a key step to allow educators to speak with one voice in Chicago, halt privatization and bring additional resources to our collective work at the CTU,” the latter union stated in a letter to its governing delegates that was obtained by the Sun-Times. “That said, merging two dynamic locals into a single union is a delicate process and will inevitably bring challenges and tensions. We must be intentional about addressing both sets of members’ questions, concerns and commitments to having a clear voice, representation and identity within the new, larger organization.” [Sun-Times]

  • Rahm counters Census Bureau data with U-Haul report

Chicago was the only major U.S. city to lose population in 2016, according to a Census Bureau report. But after its release last week, Mayor Rahm Emanuel quickly tried to refute the data, citing a U-Haul report that “determined Chicago ranked No. 2 in the nation for one-way drop-offs of the company’s trucks and trailers.” Said Emanuel, “This report is further evidence of the vibrancy and vitality of Chicago, a global city where people across the country and around the world are coming to live, work and pursue their dreams.” But as the Tribune points out, among other factors undermining the mayor’s attempt at spin, U-Haul itself notes that “Destination cities do not account for departing traffic, and thus do not necessarily reflect growth.” [Tribune]

  • Northeastern Illinois University to cut 180 employees in order to keep its doors open

Northeastern Illinois University will lay off 180 employees in order to keep its doors open over the summer and fall. The university has been hit hard by the 700-day state budget impasse. “We’ve been pushed to our limits. It has been devastating, and sadly today the devastation increases,” the school’s interim president Richard Helldobler said at a news conference. “In order to remain open for our students, and while state government remains dysfunctional, we must take drastic measures.” [DNAinfo Chicago]

  • Is there an asbestos threat in Chicago Public Schools?

Chicago Public Schools has not remediated or removed cancer-causing asbestos found by inspectors in dozens of its schools, according to an investigation by Univision Chicago in collaboration with the Social Justice News Nexus at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism. Raul Camacho, an asbestos removal worker and a parent at John Spry Elementary in Little Village, has spotted asbestos in the school’s basement, and CPS records indicate that it is present. “The insulation that covers the pipes are made of asbestos,” he said. “What called my attention is that those pipes are located in the basement area where the kindergarteners are and where the school lunchroom is located.” [Social Justice News Nexus]

  • Legally blind, disabled man shot to death in Longwood Manor park

Jervon Morris, 20, was legally blind and disabled, but that didn’t stop him from volunteering with the Park District and spending much of his time shooting hoops at Euclid Park in Longwood Manor, on the far south side. He was playing basketball Monday evening when he was fatally shot in the head. Authorities believe he was caught in the crossfire after an exchange of gunfire broke out in the park. “My heart is totally broken,” Morris’s aunt Edna Young said. “I can’t believe Jervon is gone.” Morris was one of 52 people shot over Memorial Day weekend this year. [Tribune]

  • How one of the world’s biggest beauty brands started in Chicago more than 100 years ago

Every six seconds a tube of Maybelline Great Lash mascara is sold somewhere in the world, and it all started in Chicago. Maybelline is now owned by French beauty giant L’Oreal, and its Chicago roots are largely forgotten. Sharrie Williams, the great-niece of Maybelline’s founder, Tom Lyle Williams, sets out to straighten the record in a new book, The Maybelline Story and the Family Dynasty Behind It. The story goes that her great-aunt Mabel Williams used Vaseline and coal powder to color her eyelashes and eyebrows after a kitchen fire had singed them, inspiring Mabel’s brother Tom—a flamboyant gay man who was known to wear makeup himself—to found in 1915 a business specializing in beauty products, starting with cake mascara. Maybelline, which acquired its name in 1917, had its headquarters at 5900 N. Ridge, in Edgewater, for more than 50 years, but Tom himself moved with his partner, Emery Shaver, to LA, and after Shaver’s death, sold the business in the mid-60s. “It’s a part of American history, and it’s just been brushed under the rug,” Williams told DNAinfo Chicago. [DNAinfo Chicago]