Walmart Warehouse Workers in Elwood, IL Demand an End To Illegal Retaliation

Unfair Labor Practice Charges Are Filed with the National Labor Relations Board 

Warehouse Workers for Justice

 Wednesday November 14, 2012,  warehouse workers filed charges of unfair labor practices against four employers operating Walmart’s largest distribution center located in Elwood, IL.

Schneider Logistics, Roadlink Workforce Solutions, Select Remedy and Skyward Employment Service are all charged with violating workers rights under the law.  Illegal threats, intimidation and discipline against workers organizing for improved conditions are the bases for the unfair labor practice charges filed today.

“We work hard and deserve to be paid fairly, have a safe workplace and be treated with dignity as human beings.  If Walmart thinks we will be silenced by this illegal retaliation, they are wrong” said Walmart warehouse worker Phil Bailey.

In Mira Loma, CA today dozens of warehouse workers walked off the job at a Walmart-contracted warehouse Wednesday morning to call for an end to continued retaliation against workers advocating for fair treatment and safe conditions.

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Chicago teachers join Elwood IL warehouse workers to confront Walmart

by Bob Simpson

Walmart protest in Chicago IL

The chants rang out across Vincennes Ave in the Chatham neighborhood of South Side Chicago:

“1-2-3-4 No one should be working poor!
5-6-7-8 Come on Walmart, play it straight!

We’re working families
Under attack
What do we do?
Stand up! Fight back!

There ain’t no power,
Like the power of the people,
Cuz the power of the people won’t stop!”

Striking teachers from the Chicago Teachers Union(CTU) had joined Warehouse Workers for Justice(WWJ) at a rally aimed at Walmart to protest its employee abuses and the dumping of millions of dollars into school privatization efforts. It was the afternoon of Tuesday September 18, only a few hours before the CTU House of Delegates ended the teachers strike. I had come to the rally with a CTU retiree.

Inspired by the labor-community alliance that the CTU had built in its strike and by a strike of Walmart warehouse workers in California, the Illinois warehouse workers led by WWJ went on strike against Roadlink Workforce Solutions. Roadlink is a subcontractor at the vast Walmart distribution center located in Elwood IL near Joliet, south of Chicago. The Joliet region is now a major distribution point in the big box store supply chain. WWJ is a project of the United Electrical Workers (UE), the legendary progressive union which can trace it’s history back to the factory occupations of the Great Depression.

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Chicago Workers Collaborative Explores New Organizing Model

by Bill Barclay

Leone Jose Bicchieri

This month’s Talking Socialism podcast features Leone Jose Bicchieri, Executive Director of the Chicago Workers Collaborative (CWC) talking with Bill Barclay.  The discussion provides a fascinating account of how a part of the labor movement – and CWC most definitely considers itself part of the labor movement – fights for the rights of the large and growing number of temp workers, helping these workers, many of them recent immigrants, to gain a voice in the workplace and the community. CWC’s model is not that of charity, simply providing services to temp workers, but instead asks that the workers themselves make a commitment as evidenced by the dues requirement the CWC asks of all its members.

Bicchieri describes CWC’s three pronged approach as a focus on the 350,000 plus temp workers in northeast Illinois, the establishment of community based workers’ centers that have formalized organizational structure with benefits for the whole family covered by member dues, and “bringing down barriers” that seeks to built links between Latino, white and African-America workers. The model integrates the workplace and the community, recognizing that to be successful, contemporary labor organizing must involve both of these venues. One of the most exciting current campaigns involves CWC in close cooperation with the “Warehouse Workers’ for Justice” (WWJ) campaign to organize the huge transit centers in the Joliet, Illinois area. WWJ was founded by UE after the Republic Windows sit down in 2008.

This is a great episode.

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Why is there so little respect for hard work in the USA?

by Bob Simpson

Find out what it means to me
Take care, TCB—- from the song “Respect” by Otis Redding

If you drive down I-55 or I-80 out of Chicago toward Joliet, they are hard to miss. Sprawling boxy-looking buildings, often windowless, but with constant activity as semi’s pull up to disgorge their contents. These are the warehouses of Will County, where goods meant mostly for North America’s big box stores are routed to their ultimate destinations. They employ thousands of people, mostly people of color, many of them immigrants. It is one of the largest and fasting growing USA centers for product distribution by truck and rail.

It was among those warehouses that Uylonda Dickerson, a single mom, found a job. What she did not find was respect. Not only was the pay rock-bottom, but when she reported for work, she was often sent home instead, because there was not enough to do. This is in direct violation of Illinois law, making it a case of wage theft. If workers are scheduled to work, but are sent home, the company must pay them at least 4 hours of wages.

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