Friday, August 13, 2010

Study finds 63% of Warehouse Workers Surveyed in Southwest Suburbs of Chicago are Temps Making Poverty-Level Wages

According to a press release by the Warehouse Workers for Justice:

"Warehouse workers face temp jobs and poverty wages, study shows
Report reveals warehouse industry reliance on low wage 'permatemp' jobs


A study to be released on August 16th finds that 63% of warehouse workers in the southwest suburbs of Chicago are temps making poverty-level wages.  Workers from over 150 different warehouses were surveyed for the study Bad Jobs in Goods Movement: Warehouse Work in Will County, which found low wages, few benefits and high rates of injuries and discrimination.  The study focused on Will County, which has one of the largest concentrations of warehouses in the hemisphere.  

"This is the first large scale study of warehouse workers in the country, and allows us to take a look into warehouse working conditions from the perspective of the workers,"  according to Beth Gutelius, a Research Assistant with the Center for Urban Economic Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago. 

Transportation, Warehousing and Logistics accounts for about 10% of the GDP and is one of the fastest growing industries in the country.  "Almost everything we use, wear and eat has been touched by the hands of someone in a warehouse or distribution center," said Cindy Marble, a warehouse worker who along with 70 other temps was fired in retaliation for filing legal charges at the Bissell vacuum cleaner warehouse in Elwood, IL.  

Although Will County warehouse workers distribute products to the retail shelves of some of the most profitable retailers on the planet such as Wal-mart, Home Depot and Sports Authority, the study shows that many workers are not sharing in the economic benefits of the industry.  "These hard working hands make sure our food and clothing are properly packaged while having to stand in line at soup kitchens to feed their families," said Marble.

“Will County and Chicago, IL comprise one of the largest global distribution nodes in the world. Workers in this industry need permanent jobs with living wages, and their legal rights need to be respected,” said Mark Meinster, a board member of Warehouse Workers for Justice, a group that has been trying to address working conditions in the Chicago region's warehouses.  "We won’t rebuild this economy with poverty-level temp jobs," said Meinster.  

Based on the results of the study, the group plans to collect data on wage theft and violations of the IL Day and Temporary Services Act.  

The full report, due to be released on August 16th, shows that while there is a range of jobs in this industry, including some good jobs, most warehouse jobs are temporary and do not provide family supporting wages.  

What:  Press conference to release report Bad Jobs in Goods Movement: Warehouse Work in Will County.

Who:  Local political and community leaders, clergy and other religious leaders, workers from warehouses in Will County, members of Warehouse Workers for Justice.  

When:  Monday, August 16th, 2010 at 11 am. 
Where:  Sacred Heart Parish, 329 South Ottawa Street, Joliet, IL"

Read the full Warehouse Workers for Justice Report.