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Working conditions


Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Mon Nov 10, 2014

Worker Advocates Protest 'Unsafe' Conditions At Nippon Sharyo Rail Car Manufacturing Factory

Worker advocates are sounding the alarm on "dangerous" and "unhealthy" working conditions at Nippon Sharyo's passenger train factory in Rochelle, Illinois.

Employees at the Rochelle plant -- which has received millions in grants, tax credits and training money from the state -- build railcars for Metra and other public transit agencies.

With the help of the AFL-CIO, current and former factory employees filed a complaint last month with the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), alleging that workers "are exposed to serious, unsafe conditions on an ongoing basis."

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
Wed Oct 8, 2014

Chicago Aldermen Approve IG Measure, Washington Park TIF; Elected School Board Referendum Gets Squeezed

Progress Illinois provides highlights from Wednesday's Chicago City Council meeting.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Wed Oct 1, 2014

Report: U.S. Temp Work At Record High, More Protections Needed For Workers

The U.S. economy currently has a record number of "temporary help jobs," but many of them fall short in terms of safety and pay for workers, according to a new report on the growth of the staffing industry by the National Employment Law Project (NELP) and the National Staffing Workers Alliance (NSWA).

“The shift towards temp work is creating an economy in which working people who move and produce products for some of our nation’s largest and most profitable corporations are treated like any other input, to be acquired at the cheapest cost,” said the report's co-author Rebecca Smith, NELP's deputy director. “Staffing agencies not only fail to provide livable wages, benefits or job security for their workers, but their influence in an industry can lower standards for all workers in that industry.”

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
Tue Jun 3, 2014

Pending SCOTUS Case Could Significantly Affect Public Employee Unions

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling sometime this month on a case that could potentially deal a hard blow to public employee unions nationwide. Progress Illinois takes a look at the possible implications of the Harris v. Quinn case.

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
Thu May 22, 2014

Fast Food Workers Protest At McDonald’s Headquarters, Call For Higher Wages (VIDEO)

One day before the annual McDonald’s shareholder meeting took place in Oak Brook Thursday, hundreds of minimum wage workers and their supporters descended upon the fast food company’s corporate headquarters to demand $15 an hour and the right to form a union.

After protesters entered the McDonald’s campus at Jorie Boulevard and Kroc Drive and staged a sit-in, 138 demonstrators were arrested and charged with an ordinance violation of criminal trespass to property, according to the Oak Brook Police Department.

“We need $15 an hour and a union to support our families,” said Jessica Davis, 25, moments before she was arrested Wednesday afternoon. Davis, a single mother with two children, ages 4 and 9 months, has worked at a McDonald’s restaurant on Chicago’s West Side for more than four years.

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
Thu Apr 24, 2014

On Anniversary Of Bangladesh Factory Tragedy, Activists Demand Safer Conditions For Walmart Workers (VIDEO)

One year after a Bangladesh factory that produced Walmart clothing collapsed, killing more than 1,100 people, the retailer is still turning a blind eye to dangerous conditions in their supply chain, according to a group of activists who staged a protest Thursday on the North Side of Chicago.

“We’ve been seeing problems after problems in Walmart’s contracted warehouses and it’s time Walmart step up and take responsibility and fix these problems,” said Mark Meinster, campaign director for Warehouse Workers for Justice.

Meinster was one of more than two dozen people who protested Thursday outside Chicago’s Walmart Express, at 2844 N. Broadway, to demand better wages and improved working conditions for employees of the world’s largest retailer and its factories.

“Walmart could easily have fixed the problems in Bangladesh, and they could easily fix problems in their warehouses here in the U.S., but so far they’ve refused to do so,” Meinster said.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Tue Aug 20, 2013

Bakery Workers Blast Clyde’s Delicious Donuts Over Plan To Pull Pension Fund (VIDEO)

Workers at Clyde’s Delicious Donuts say they are outraged that the company plans to withdraw from its employees' pension fund and move workers into a 401K-style plan starting this September.

About 20 workers and their allies protested outside the bakery’s Addison facility demanding that the company continue its pension contribution so workers do not lose their benefits. They also called on Clyde’s to offer better wages for its temporary workers and allow them to be part of the collective bargaining agreement.

Donald Woods, president of the Bakery Confectionery Tobacco Workers And Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) Local 1, which represents many of the Clyde’s workers, said the bakery employees have been in contract negotiations with the company for the past eight months. Although there has been some progress made at the negotiating table, the workers are not happy about the company’s plan to withdraw from the pension fund, which would mean at least a $300 per-month reduction in pension benefits for each of the workers.

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
Fri Jul 19, 2013

Dunkin Donuts Workers Forced To Work In Almost 100-Degree Temps Walk Off The Job (VIDEO)

As a heat wave took over Chicago this week, with temperatures reaching well over 95 degrees on several occasions, workers at a downtown Dunkin’ Donuts were forced to work without air conditioning since Sunday.

On Thursday, tired of being forced to sweat it out, three workers walked out on strike, locking the doors of the 24-hour location behind them as they left. The Dunkin Donuts location, which has a broken air conditioner, was closed for eight hours.

“I couldn’t stand it anymore,” said Luis Vargas, 21, an employee of Dunkin’ Donuts for five months and one of the workers who walked out. “If we didn’t drink any liquids I’m pretty sure me and my coworkers would have passed out.”

The store’s thermostat hit 99 degrees when the workers walked off the job.