A dozen frustrated unemployed workers in the 11th congressional district visited their representative's Joliet office this morning hand-delivering his staff a letter with a clear message for the Republican congressman: We want jobs!
The group went on to demand that U.S. Rep Adam Kinzinger (R-11) hold a town hall meeting or some kind of in-person, public forum with constituents about the job crisis before the end of the August recess.
Holding signs that read "It's Your Job To Make Sure We Have Good Jobs In Joliet" and "How Can I Make It Through The Day Without A Good Job?", the protesters say that although Kinzinger is currently away on active duty, he also has an obligation to make time to listen to his constituents.
“I respect that Rep. Kinzinger serves our country, but he also made a pledge to serve his constituents and we are in a jobs crisis right now,” said Uyolanda Dickerson, an unemployed resident concerned about becoming homeless. “We are the walking dead, wondering how we are going to make it each day. Is he on our side or only on the side of the rich? Why won’t he meet with us?”
The protesters add that Kinzinger made time to release a statement on the end of the Qadaffi regime, so he should make time for them. The group says they will return to the legislator's office next week with even more ralliers if they do not hear from him about the need for good jobs in the area.
"We need better jobs in the community, not more jobs," said Brian Kaccini, a Kankakee resident who has been out of work for almost two years. "There are a lot of tax breaks for these big corporations who are making a lot of money but aren’t putting it back into the workers who work for them [and] run the corporations. We need to be paid for it and not cheated so that when we get sick we can’t go to the doctor because we’ve got no insurance, we’ve got no retirement plans, nothing. [Rep. Kinzinger,] you need to get out here in the neighborhood and hear a few of these problems from the people who are going to vote for you, not just the people who are going to give you money to get you re-elected.
Joliet has an unemployment rate of 15 percent. Residents seeking work in the area lament the lack of good job opportunities, recalling a time when the options were much more plentiful thanks to construction jobs and work at steel mills.
"Back in the day we had rights as workers," recalls Demetrie Collins, who worked in the Joliet area for many years, but is now unemployed and homeless. "But now I see that corporations have rights over the workers. If a temp service offers you a job that’s too far away and you don’t want to pay the gas money, then they say that you refuse to work, and they call unemployment and say don’t pay him ... We need help out here, congressman, we need to be heard … for the sake of God, if you have any decency in your heart, come to Joliet and the surrounding areas and talk to people who voted you in."