Striking workers at Golan's Moving and Storage in Skokie saw support Friday afternoon from U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL,9) and Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia (7th).
About 90 unionized workers at Golan's have been on strike since July 28 due to sluggish contract talks with their employer. Workers at the Skokie moving company, located at 3600 Jarvis Ave., have been waiting for their first labor contract since winning union representation by Teamsters Local 705 in December.
Schakowsky and Garcia hit the picket lines with the workers Friday, the same day union and company officials met for a contract negotiation session with a federal mediator. The elected officials urged the company to bargain in good faith with the workers.
Contract sticking points involve wage hikes, paid holidays and vacation days, health care coverage and retirement benefits, to name a few.
"They want simple workers' rights — not to have wages stolen from them," the congresswoman stressed. "And they want what every worker wants, [which] is good pay and working conditions. And so that's a simple request. They voted in favor of it. That's how we operate in this country, and now we want Golan's to negotiate in good faith with them."
Schakowsky said she sent company officials a letter in August urging them to speed up contract talks. She hasn't heard back from the company.
A Golan's representative could not be reached for comment.
The congresswoman's district includes the moving company, and several Golan's workers live in Garcia's district, which includes Cicero and Chicago's Southwest Side.
"We want to make it very clear," Garcia said. "Golan['s] movers: sit and negotiate with the workers through their agents and arrive at a fair and just wage, because everyone should have a fair wage in society."
Here's more from Schakowsky, Garcia and today's strike scene:
Golan's employee Fernando Molina, 26, said union and company officials also met Thursday, but not much progress was made at the bargaining table. The company, he said, denied about 90 percent of the contract proposal put forward by the union.
"They gave us their counter proposal, which is just ridiculous," he said. "It seems like they don't want to negotiate with us in good faith. It seems like they just want to make money for themselves and that's about it."
Molina, a driver at Golan's, said he believes the company is intentionally dragging out the contract talks. He thinks the company is purposefully holding out on an agreement until the unionized workers take a vote in December to decide whether they still want union representation.
"They think that if they can drag negotiations out when we have to vote again that we're going to reject the union," he explained. "But we're not. The main reason we decided to become a union is because we wanted someone to represent us, to protect us from bad companies that don't respect their employees."
None of the Golan's workers have health insurance through their employer. A worker health care plan is one of many unsettled issues.
"There's a lot of guys that have gotten hurt," Molina stressed. "When they do get hurt, they have to ... pay out of pocket for their medical needs."
The workers are also calling on the company to compensate them for all hours worked. Molina said the movers do not get paid for their time traveling to and from a moving job from the company's headquarters. The workers have to load and unload moving equipment from the company's office before and after a job, and they aren't compensated for that time either, Molina said.
"That's about three to four hours a day in lost wages," he said. "That's 20 to 30 dollars a day that we could use for food or necessary needs, and that's something we're asking for as well, for them to give us back our lost wages."
Click through for Progress Illinois' previous coverage of the Golan's strike.