Archive for the ‘Midwest Worker Struggles’ Category

Last week thousands of working Chicagoans protested corporations in attendance of a Midwest Chamber of Commerce summit.  Protesters demanded accountability from corporations who, by failing to pay taxes, have caused the housing crisis, unemployment, and budget deficits.  Check out the action here.

To join the growing movement, visit Stand Up! Chicago.

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By: Angelica Cardoso

A coalition of Lakeview community members, organizations, local business owners, faith leaders, union

Rev. C.J. Hawking of Arise Chicago

representatives, the neighborhood chamber of commerce and others united this morning to speak out against Wal-Mart’s intent to open a store in the Lakeview neighborhood, on Broadway just north of Diversey.  There is currently a T.J. Maxx and a Cost Plus World Market in this location.  Wal-Mart plans to utilize two empty store fronts and buy out the World Market space to essentially take up the whole block.  Across the street on the east side of Broadway are several small, independent stores which the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce and community members fear will shut down if a Wal-Mart moves in.

The country’s largest big box store and world’s largest retail store also faces dismay from Chicago’s religious community.  Rev. C.J. Hawking spoke on behalf of Arise Chicago’s clergy and congregation network which views Wal-Mart as an irresponsible employer.  The company usually does not offer livable wages or provide essential benefits to its workers, causing taxpayers to subsidize Wal-Mart by paying government benefits such as Medicaid or food stamps often needed by Wal-Mart workers.  Additionally, as one community member pointed out, Wal-Mart often displaces more jobs in a community than it creates because of  nearby store closings.  Another community member talked about how his home town in Indiana saw a Wal-Mart come in with low prices, thereby destroying neighborhood stores, only to raise prices once the competition had all shut down.  This community member started a Facebook group called Stop the Lakeview/Lincoln Park Walmart, which now has 861 members, and provides several links with news stories and other information like the company’s proposed store plan, allegedly kept secret until now.  One community member also started an independent online survey of Lakeview residents their opinion on a Wal-Mart opening in their neighborhood, and others created an online petition against the store.

On Wednesday, May 4th, the feature-length documentary Wal-Mart: the High Cost of Low Price will be screened at the Landmark Century Cinema Theater located at 2828North Clark at 7:30p.m. with Q&A to follow.

The Alley owner shows his fear of what will happen if Wal-Mart comes to Lakeview

For additional information on campaigns fighting to improve Wal-Mart’s practices see Wake Up Wal-Mart, a campaign founded by the United Food and Commercial Workers.  The campaign also has a Facebook page.  Finally, check out a study that finds that if Wal-Mart increased its wages, shoppers would barely notice–debunking the myth that the retail giant can’t afford to pay higher wages without jacking up prices.

– Angelica is an intern at Arise Chicago

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Worker members of the Cincinnati Interfaith Workers Center are fighting a temp agency that charges for mandatory transportation fee for cleaners of the Cincinnati Reds’ ballpark.  The result?  Workers who clean the stadium bathrooms and use power washers to clean the grandstands make less than the state’s minimum wage.  Read the full article at The Cincinnati Enquirer.

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By Rev. C.J. Hawking

Bishop Miller addresses the thousands gathered in Madison

As I assist Rabbi Renee Bauer of Madison’s Interfaith Coalition for Worker Justice of South Central Wisconsin, the following has been accomplished:  over 400 religious leaders statewide have signed a statement in support of a just solution; over 120 religious leaders marched together in Saturday’s rally of 100,000 supporters; Shabbat services led by four rabbis were led in the Capital; on Sunday, Rev. Amanda Stein of Trinity UMC, Madison led an ecumenical service with an open Communion table; seventeen religious leaders, with stoles, collars, and yarmulkes, stood ready to risk arrest in a civil disobedience action with hundreds of occupiers of the Capital building; churches and synagogues are opening their space for forums, discussions, and organizing teams; and this past weekend hundreds of clergy preached on supporting the importance and power of the average citizen acting on behalf of the common good.

While all faith traditions teach us that another world is possible, the people of Wisconsin are showing us how.
– Rev. C.J. Hawking is Executive Director of Arise Chicago

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See the story in The American Prospect, Harold Myerson, February 17, 2011

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Wisconsin workers and allies protest Repulican Governor Scott Walker’s proposed cuts to public sector union jobs, wages and benefits, including curtailing collective bargaining rights.  See a summary of coverage on Colorlines, on-the-ground reflections on  StaleyBookBlog, and a slideshow on Working In These Times.

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