The following report comes from a Warehouse Workers for Justice press release issued October 6.
In an historic victory, all striking Roadlink workers at Walmart's Elwood warehouse near Joliet have won their principal demand, for an end to illegal retaliation against workers protesting poor conditions. They will return to work with full pay for the period they were on strike. Workers returning to work plan to continue their fight for safe working conditions, fair pay for all hours worked and an end to discrimination.
See an excellent video about the strike, from Labor Beat, by clicking here.
During the 21-day strike, strikers have received a tremendous outpouring of support. On Monday, October 1, strikers and their supporters -- a crowd numbering approximately 650 -- succeeded in shutting down the Elwood facility, Walmart's largest distribution center in North America. Clergy, community and labor leaders blocked the road leading out of the warehouse in support of the striking workers, and 17 of them were arrested. (Read our report on the rally here.) The rally brought public attention to Walmart's distribution system and to unfair labor practices and other abuses of workers in massive warehouse and logistics industry around Joliet, which constitute the nation's largest inland port. On October 5, Walmart received a letter from over 100,000 supporters of the strikers, demanding that Walmart take responsibility for employment conditions in its warehouse.
Striking Roadlink worker Ted Ledwa said, "With this victory, we forced the company to respect our rights. We showed that when workers are united we can stand up to the biggest corporations in the world and win".
Warehouse Workers for Justice is planning another action on Wednesday, October 10 in Downtown Chicago, in support of Walmart store workers that are also standing up against Walmart's retaliation.
Warehouse workers labor under extreme temperatures, lifting thousands of boxes that can weigh up to 250 pounds each. Workplace injuries are common; workers rarely earn a living wage or receive benefits.
Warehouse Workers for Justice is an Illinois worker center dedicated to fighting for quality jobs in the distribution industry that can sustain families and communities. The strikers are members of the Warehouse Worker Organizing Committee.