On Wednesday, December 5th, five African American workers filed a Federal Title VII Discrimination lawsuit in Chicago, IL, against Johnson & Johnson supplier Vee Pak Inc., and three staffing agencies that provide workers to Vee Pak. The lawsuit claims that Vee Pak and the three staffing agencies discriminated against Black workers – putting up barriers, making it harder to even apply for a job, barriers that were not placed in front of workers of other races.
The coalition of organizations who are supporting the workers held a press conference in Chicago to announce the lawsuit. The coalition includes South Austin Coalition Community Council (SACCC), Coalition Against Segregation of Temporary Employees (CASTE) and three NSWA steering committee members, Chicago Workers Collaborative (CWC) and Warehouse Workers for Justice/UE, and New Labor in New Jersey. Chicago Workers Collaborative and Bringing Down Barriers (a project of CWC), sent applicants to all three staffing agencies to document how black and Latino workers were treated differently. The Bringing Down Barriers program is unique in that it’s goal is eradicate the barriers being placed in front of Black workers while at the same time trying to bridge the gaps between Black and Latino workers.
Following the press conference the coalition travelled to a Walmart in Austin to hold an informational leafleting. Walmart sells Johnson & Johnson products supplied by Vee Pak, some of which are marketed directly to the African American community.
At the same time as the lawsuit was being filed in Chicago, NSWA steering committee member, New Labor, led a delegation to the Johnson & Johnson headquarters in New Brunswick, NJ. The delegation delivered a letter from the Chicago coalition demanding that Johnson & Johnson enforce its standards for its suppliers and also asking for a face to face meeting the CEO, Alex Gorsky.
Other support actions are being planned for other cities.
Click here to read an article about the lawsuit.