Peaceful Protestors Arrested at Rally for Walmart Warehouse Workers
October 2, 2012 7:21 am
Workers, clergy, union members and Warehouse Workers for Justice representatives ramped up their actions in Elwood, IL yesterday, holding a rally at the site of a Walmart distribution center that has been the target of a slew of lawsuits and a recent strike. About 600 attendees gathered in support of the workers, successfully shutting down the warehouse by forming a peaceful blockade in front of the entrance, effectively stopping business. Seventeen were reportedly arrested in the action.
Workers at the Elwood, IL warehouse went on strike September 17th despite a lack of union representation. The workers, aided by Warehouse Workers for Justice and employed by the Walmart-subcontracted Roadlink, submitted a petition requesting an end to the rampant wage theft, discrimination and dangerous working conditions they experience. When told that they were no longer welcome at the warehouse, the workers walked out in protest, announcing their strike at a rally for the recently victorious Chicago Teachers.
Cindy Cain reports on the place of Monday’s action in the larger strategy against practices at the Elwood, IL distribution hub for the Naperville Sun:
The protest was an escalation of three years of work by WWJ to improve conditions for warehouse workers in Will County, which with its two intermodals has become the largest inland port in North America in recent years.
The group has helped workers file 11 lawsuits against the companies that own, manage or staff warehouses. Six of the lawsuits are against companies hired by Walmart to run its warehouse. By the end of the year, several of the lawsuits will settle for about $1 million in back pay, said Leah Fried, a WWJ spokeswoman.
The arrested protesters, largely consisting of labor-friendly clergy, were issued what essentially amounts to a traffic ticket for blocking the entrance to the warehouse (though police found it necessary to dress in riot gear to descend on the peaceful action).
The crusade for better conditions at Walmart warehouses is gaining steam across the country. Earlier this month, about 30 Walmart warehouse workers completed a six-day march from the inland empire distribution hub to downtown Los Angeles, protesting alarmingly similar conditions.
Image from here