Workers and supporters protest Wal-Mart supplier Norelco in Chicago suburbs: “Stop Shaving Workers’ Rights!”
Cite mutli-million dollar profits on Black Friday while factory workers earn pennies on the dollar
Norelco locks factory doors and calls police
For Immediate Release
Contact: Tim Bell, Senior Organizer, 773-230-0351
Roselle, Illinois, Tuesday, November 20, 2012: Several dozen workers and supporters held signs protesting Wal-Mart supplier Norelco for using a temp labor agency where workers have been complaining of numerous types of abuse. The Chicago Workers’ Collaborative has several members who work at the temp labor agency (Staffing Network) and the Norelco plant, and has been coordinating efforts with the Staffing Network Workers Committee to improve working conditions.
“When the factory supervisors heard the protesters shouting for fair working conditions, and calling on Norelco and Wal-Mart to negotiate with our workers committee, the supervisors began threatening us workers inside the factory, telling us not to join the protest and they started locking the doors,” states Rosa Ramirez, member of the Chicago Workers’ Collaborative and leader among the Staffing Network and Norelco workers, “Since it was shift-change, they had to eventually let us out and let the next shift of workers in, but many workers did not want to come in and start their shift out of support for the protest and our demands for improved working conditions.”
After repeated threats by the factory supervisors, the second shift of workers entered the factory, but the delay caused the second shift to start late. In addition to threatening workers not to stage any work stoppage, and locking doors to its factory, Norelco managment also called the local police to intimidate the protestors. One police officer arrived and shouted at protesters not to trespass on Norelco property, and threatened workers and supporters with arrest.
“Although Wal-Mart proudly cites Phillip Norelco’s signing of the United Nations Global Compact, the International Labour Organization’s set of principals, and touts a strict policy of labor standards for Norelco suppliers, when their own workers request dialogue, Norelco responds by threatening its workers and calling police,” points out Leone Jose Bicchieri, Executive Director of the Chicago Workers’ Collaborative.
A small delegation, including Rosa and two other temp labor workers, delivered a letter to Norelco, asking for a meeting with Norelco ownership to resolve numerous workplace complaints, but one Norelco representative hastily retreated back into the office and locked the doors when the group of five people neared the office. The group finally left after giving the letter to a security guard.
Among the protesters were members of the Chicago Workers’ Collaborative who have worked at Staffing Network in the past, and now work at other temp labor agencies in the Chicago region. Other supporters present were Northern Illinois Jobs with Justice, the Laborers Union (LIUNA), and United Food and Commercial Workers Local 881.