Archive for April 2012
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By Ellyn Fortino
Sexual harassment and assault against women warehouse employees is widespread in Will County, a report recently released by the Warehouse Workers for Justice shows. The report, “Women at Work, Women at Risk: Sexual harassment and assault in Will County warehouses,” includes testimony from several female workers who spoke about their workplace abuse experiences at a Warehouse Workers for Justice public hearing held on March 8 in Joliet. In many cases the report found employers did little when women workers came forward about harassment, and in some instances, the employer retaliated against the employee.
By Kari Lydersen
“We don’t go to work to be touched, to be talked down to, to be told what our bodies look like. We know what our bodies look like when we put on our clothes in the morning,” Uylonda Dickerson said. But constant remarks about their bodies, and unwanted touching, advances, mean-spirited “pranks” and other forms of sexual harassment are a regular occurrence for many of the more than 30,000 women—like Dickerson—who work in the warehouse industry in the Chicago area, according to a report (PDF) released this week by the group Warehouse Workers for Justice (WWJ). And women often face retaliation for reporting harassment.
Joliet Herald News
JOLIET — A march in support of Trayvon Martin, the Florida teen who was shot and killed on Feb. 26, will begin at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Sacred Heart Church, 337 S. Ottawa St., and continue to the Will County Courthouse, 14 W. Jefferson St., said Cindy Marble, a community organizer for Warehouse Workers for Justice.
The march is being organized by WWJ and the Interfaith Action Committee, a Will County group devoted to social justice issues.
Marchers are being encouraged to wear hoodies. Martin was wearing a hoodie when George Zimmerman, a member of a Neighborhood Watch group, said the teen looked “suspicious.” Zimmerman called 911 and followed the teen. The two tangled in the dark and an unarmed Martin was shot and killed by Zimmerman.
The case has ignited passions around the country. Some people are calling for Zimmerman to be arrested for murdering the teen. Others are defending Zimmerman’s actions as self defense.
Marble said the shooting doesn’t make sense to her.
“You’re black and you have a hoodie on and that makes you suspicious,” she said.
The march is a good way for WWJ, a group working to improve conditions for employees in area warehouses, to expand its presence in the community, Marble said.
“We care about the community,” she said. “We want to branch out into other avenues.”
March organizers are linking the Martin case to what happened to Elwood warehouse worker Priscilla Marshall.
“There are a lot of similarities,” said Charlotte Droogan, a lay community minister from the Universalist Unitarian Church of Joliet who is a member of the Interfaith Action Committee.
Marshall is a 20-year-old Hispanic woman who claimed she was sexually harassed at the warehouse. She filed a police report in August 2010, but she was subsequently arrested on felony theft charges after her bosses said she stole from the warehouse.
A lawyer representing Marshall and others who supported her harassment claims said the criminal charges were retaliation for her sexual harassment claims.
“They (Martin and Marshall) are both young people and their perpetrators are still at large,” Droogan said. “And they’re both kids of color.”
For information on the march, call WWJ at 888-344-6432.
March 29, 2012
By Jane Slaughter
Workers in the nation’s sprawling distribution network hold enormous potential power. They bring $622 billion of goods each year from abroad to retail shelves. A work stoppage in any section of the interlinked network—dock workers, railroad workers, truck drivers, warehouse workers, store workers—could shut off the spigot of goods that keep consumers happy and keep profits churning through the supply chain.
In 2002 a 10-day lockout of West Coast dockworkers left a backlog of 200 ships waiting to be unloaded, causing alarmed big-box retailers to beg President Bush to resolve the dispute.
But most workers in the chain belong to no organization that could channel their energy. Their many occupations are fragmented, separated by ethnic and language differences, citizenship status, directly hired workers and temps, employees and “independent contractors,” union and non-union.