Archive for November 2009
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IWW activists in Grand Rapids, MI let Kohl’s customers know that Bissell products are distributed with sweatshop labor. Grand Rapids is home to the headquarters of Bissell Homecare.
By Quincy Saul
A metropolis of many worlds, Chicago in the summer is at the height of its glory. The Daley empire presides over a diverse equilibrium of populism and plutocracy. While the city enchants politicians and business people with Olympian dreams, its center enthralls no less the leftists and revolutionaries who gather for demonstrations and conferences. A mecca of irreconcilable interests in the middle of North America, Chicago holds together even its most antagonistic ingredients. It is a city built in its own image.
Meanwhile, this same summer, an hour outside Chicago in the town of Joliet, Maria (name changed), a “temp” working as a packer in a warehouse, has another story to tell. Bent over a line packaging frozen pizza destined for Walmart,Sam’s Club, 7-Eleven, and Trader Joe’s, she works alongside many others who are employed in the fastest growing industry in Will County, one of the Chicago’s southern “collar” counties. The company she works for employs only Latino/a temporary workers. All are paid minimum wage, receive no benefits and are offered no opportunities for advancement. Many have been working in these “temporary” positions for years.
By Mark Brenner
Forty warehouse workers and their supporters picketed Wednesday in front of the Bissell distribution center in Joliet, Illinois, one of dozens of mammoth buildings that have sprung up off of I-55 south of Chicago. One week earlier Bissell—through their temp agency—dropped the axe on all 70 workers in the warehouse. Their offense? Trying to form a union.
Temp Agency Defends Warehouse Dismissals
Produced by Chip Mitchell on Friday, November 13, 2009
A firm that supplies labor for a southwest suburban warehouse is disputing a claim that it’s firing workers because they petitioned for a union.
Michigan-based Bissell Homecare distributes vacuum cleaners out of a warehouse in Elwood. Bissell pays a Danish company called Maersk to run it. Maersk contracts with Atlanta-based RoadLink to provide about 70 workers at the warehouse.
Last month, most of them signed a petition for representation by the United Electrical Workers.
Then RoadLink started laying them off. A union complaint to federal authorities accuses Maersk and RoadLink of retaliation.
RoadLink says the company simply decided not to pursue a new contract at the warehouse. Maersk says neither it nor Bissell are responsible for the workforce.
But Maersk could face penalties under at least one law. Illinois allows contracting for labor through a temporary agency only if that agency is registered with the state Department of Labor. RoadLink is not registered.