Friday, November 23, 2012

WalMart Protest in Joliet, Illinois

By Mary Baskerville
Carriage Stone Communications

JOLIET—The gathering at Sacred Heart Church on the Friday morning after Thanksgiving was equal parts fellowship and solidarity.  Practicing chants, the group gathered, held hands and joined in a prayer asking for a blessing on workers and to show support for Wal-Mart workers struggling with what the organizers say is less than a living wage, before going to Jefferson Street to march in front of the store’s entrance drive.

Sue Myers of Frankfort marched in the bitterly cold wind because she wanted to show support for the workers, who deserve to paid a living wage, she said.

“I feel Wal-Mart is unfair,” Pam Leddy, of Joliet, said as she stood to the entrance of Wal-Mart off Jefferson Street: “It’s a very high price to a community for their prices.”

Will County Board District 5 member Reed Bible  said he was standing in “support of the Wal-Mart workers” for better wages and benefits. Will County Board District 4 member Jackie Traynere said the “workers need people to stand up, the corporate dream has become a nightmare."

Meanwhile, Wal-Mart issued a statement Friday saying the company broke Black Friday records. In part, the news release read:
"BENTONVILLE, Ark., Nov. 23, 2012 – Today, Wal-Mart U.S. reported its best ever Black Friday events. The retailer saw larger crowds than last year and a huge response to its first ever one-hour guarantee on key electronic items.
“I’m so proud of what our more than 1.3 million associates have done to prepare and execute our Black Friday plans, giving our customers a great start to their Christmas shopping season,” said Bill Simon, Wal-Mart U.S. president and chief executive officer. “The work of our associates is even more impressive when you consider they served approximately 22 million customers on Thursday."

Here is a video of today's action in front of the Joliet WalMart:

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Jesse Jackson Jr. Resigns House Seat, Cites Peotone Airport in Resignation Letter

Jesse Jackson Jr. has formally resigned his House Seat.  Jackson was re-elected to the Illinois Second Congressional District in the November 2012 election.

In his resignation letter, Jackson described his work for the 2nd District throughout his time in Congress.  In his letter Jackson says a Peotone airport will employ 300,000 people.  The letter goes on to say "sitting on the Governor’s desk 400,000,000 proposal for an airport that will cost the taxpayers nothing and only awaits the Governor’s commitment to build it."

Read the entire resignation letter here.

More on the Peotone Airport.

WalMart Stike, Black Friday Boycott, and Will County

Will County is at the heart of both the nation's freight distribution system and recent action by workers to change how WalMart treats workers at its warehouses and retail stores.  Will County--where all 6 Class A Railroads meet--is home to the nation's largest inland port---two intermodals where trains bring freight from the coast for transfer to truck and distribution to a big-box store near year.  If you live in Will County you have probably seen the long intermodal trains carrying containers headed into the intermodals in Joliet and Elwood.

In September 2012, workers at the massive WalMart warehouse in Elwood, Illinois went on strike for unfair labor practices.  The workers---employed through the staffing agency Roadlink to work at the WalMart warehouse which is run by Schneider Logistics---presented management with a petition about workers' concerns about wage theft, unsafe conditions, and discrimination.  Workers were told they to leave the building, and then went on strike for illegal retaliation.

Here, a striking worker at the Elwood WalMart warehouse explains why he went on strike:

Workers at the warehouse also stated they were sometimes paid by a "piece rate" system that resulted in getting paid less than minimum wage and were also not paid for all hours worked:

An October 1, 2012 rally for striking workers in front of the WalMart warehouse in Elwood led to arrests after members of the clergy sat down in the street in an act of civil disobedience against what they said were injustices in the warehouse:

 Mike Compton, a striking worker at the Elwood WalMart Warehouse was interviewed on Democracy Now about his experience at the WalMart warehouse and how warehouse workers felt connected to WalMart retail employees who are planning a Black Friday strike:

Many of the Will County workers organize with Joliet-based Warehouse Workers for Justice.  The group is an independent workers center founded by the United Electrical Workers.  Warehouse Workers for Justice has been organizing for three years in Will County and has called for improvement in Will County warehouses and for making warehouse jobs permanent and family-supporting.  Warehouse Workers for Justices says the majority of warehouse jobs in Will County are based on a "perma-temp" system wherein most people working in warehouses are employed not by the company whose goods are moving through the warehouse, but by staffing agencies that hire people on a temp basis.  The group also claims wage theft, discrimination, and a lack of basic benefits characterize most warehouse jobs in Will County.  Last winter, Warehouse Workers for Justice held a community meeting on sexual harassment in warehouses:

Warehouse Workers for Justice will hold a rally in front of Sacred Heart Church in Joliet at 8 a.m. on Black Friday and then head to the WalMart on West Jefferson Street in Joliet.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Will County Election Results 2012

To view all Will County election results, go here.

Results will start to post after polls close at 7:00 p.m. and will continue to update throughout the night as more votes are counted.

Manhattan Elwood Library Referendum Results 2012

Voters in the Manhattan-Elwood Public Library District once again voted on a referendum for the Manhattan-Elwood Public Library.  Voters were asked whether the library should purchase the HomeStar Bank Building on Gougar and Sweedler Road to use for a new library.

To view the library referendum results from the November 6,  2012 election, go here and scroll down to the bottom.

Results will begin to be posted after the polls close at 7:00 p.m. and will continue to be tabulated throughout the night.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Illiana Tollway Protest

Opponents of the Peotone Airport and the Illiana Expressway met to protest plans for the Illiana Expressway, calling it "Illiana Neosprawl".  In October 2012, the Illiana Planning Team announced corridor "B3" and a "No Build" option would continue forward for further study.  The B3 corridor travels from near Lowell, Indiana to Wilmington, Illinois and passes through a mapped "South Suburban Airport".    The protest took place outside State Senator Toi Hutchinson's office in Olympia Fields.  Hutchinson introduced legislation allowing for quick take eminent domain for a public-private Illiana Expressway.

Protest Against the Peotone Airport and the Illiana Expressway
Symerton landowner whose farm would be affected by the Illiana B3

Anthony Rayson of STAND then gave a statement condemning the proposed Illiana as an engine of sprawl in Southern and Eastern Will County: