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Niala Boodhoo

  • Mexican immigrant Robert Silva says he just wanted to form a union. The Milwaukee pizza factory worker is one of several dozen employees embroiled in a labor dispute against a frozen pizza company founded by Italian immigrants.
  • The Panera coffee and sandwich chain is replacing some of its stores with nonprofit versions that allow customers to pay what they want and raise awareness about food insecurity. So far, the stores are paying for themselves.
  • Today's manufacturing work requires a strong grasp of fractions, decimals and basic trigonometry — skills that many job applicants often lack. So colleges and nonprofits are stepping in to fill the skills gap with programs that combine manufacturing training with basic math and reading.
  • It was a good year for manufacturing, especially in the Midwest. The Federal Reserve says Midwestern manufacturing has seen 28 consecutive months of growth — at higher rates than the rest of the country. But that doesn't mean that jobs lost during the recession are returning. The jobs that are available often call for highly skilled workers.
  • Battelle isn't exactly a household name but the Ohio nonprofit is responsible for everyday items like the Xerox copy, compact discs and even bar codes. Those are the inventions Battelle publicly takes credit for. There are countless others, but the Columbus-based organization stays under the radar because it develops these products for large corporations confidentially. This report is from the Midwest reporting project Changing Gears.