"There are Nazi signs on the walls," said Angela McDonald, who works at the Kraft/Cadbury warehouse in Joliet. "When you have to work late or on a Saturday
you never know what could happen."
McDonald and her co-workers are filing charges today with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging discrimination and a hostile work environment at the warehouse.
"When I'm leaving at one in the morning, there is no security, and I know
there are people who are hateful and prejudiced in the building. I'm
afraid of someone hurting me," said McDonald, in a press release.
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The workers say they've approached management at the company that runs the warehouse, DB Schenker, many times but have been told that African-American and Latino workers created the problems--like the swastika graffiti on the walls--to get attention.
"When we first saw the swastika grafitti, we went to talk to the
management. They still have not said that they will take care of any of
this," McDonald alleged.
The Chicago Reporter reached out to media contacts at DB Schenker and will update this post when a response is received.
The group that represents the workers, Warehouse Workers for Justice, released a report last year on the state of warehouse workers in Illinois, showing that many workers are being paid as temporary workers, even though they've worked at warehouses for five or six years. Forty percent of the workers they surveyed cited being discriminated against at work, both because of their race and also if they spoke up against work conditions.
One former worker, Tory Moore, who now works for Warehouse Workers for Justice as an organizer, told me that hiring decisions for a full-time position with benefits was based all on skin color. Black workers remained temps, while white workers got regular jobs.
Anytime you go to the store, the shelves you see full of products to choose from--that's the work of warehouse employees like Tory Moore and Angela McDonald. Without them, your favorite shampoo or brand of baby food would never make it into your hands.
But in 2011, should workers who do such an important job keeping our economy afloat face the kind of hostile discrimination that they allege is taking place? The charges they file today sound more like something that took place 40 years ago, rather than in a modern-day workplace that our economy and millions of Americans depend on each day.
Photo credit: Paulo Ordoveza