Tuesday, January 29, 2008

UCC, Residents And 'Uptown United' Campaign Against 'Labor Ready'

Update: There will be a "Labor Ready" hearing tonight, January 31, at 6:30pm at the "McCormick Boys and Girls Club" at Sheridan and Gunnison. Spread the word!

Uptown residents are fighting mad over the proposed "day labor" office at Sheridan and Gunnison to be run by "Labor Ready." A website has even been created to inform residents of the issue. Check it out here (www.stoplaborready.org)
"Uptown Chicago Commisson" and even "Uptown United" have all sent letters to Alderman Helen Shiller to share their disapproval of this plan. You can read the letters sent to the Alderman from both "UCC" and "Uptown United" below. Residents are still encouraged to voice their opinions on the "Labor Ready" proposal to the alderman's office at 773-878-4646.

January 29, 2008

Alderman Helen Shiller

4544 North Broadway

Chicago, IL 60640

Re: 4830 North Sheridan Proposed Special Use Permit

Dear Alderman Shiller:

This letter describes the reasons why the UCC opposes the special use permit applied for by Labor Ready.

Uptown is a densely populated community with a struggling retail/commercial environment. We have two primary objections to this permit, both of which are related to the loitering and frequent van loading/unloading associated with large, day labor service operations.

  • The appearance of groups of loitering individuals would impede the long-term efforts of Uptown United to attract quality retail and commercial businesses to the neighborhood. Potential entrepreneurs would be hesitant to invest near this type of business - due to concern that potential customers would be unwilling to navigate the crowd to patronize their establishments.
  • The existence of loitering individuals and van loading/unloading would deteriorate the pedestrian experience for area residents. Residents frequently walk to public transportation, schools, workplaces and entertainment venues and walk their dogs several times each day.

UCC suggests the nearby Ravenswood light industrial corridor as a more appropriate location. It is served well by public transportation, but is not characterized as primarily residential or commercial. We believe such an arrangement would best serve the interests of Ready Labor and its constituents as well as Uptown’s larger retail and residential population.


Kathy Cook


Cc: Alderman Mary Ann Smith

State Representative Greg Harris

Gunnison Block Club

Uptown United

Patricia Scudiero, Chicago Department of Zoning


January 18, 2008

Ald. Helen Shiller, 46th Ward

4544 North Broadway

Chicago, IL 60640

Re: Labor Ready

Dear Alderman Shiller:

At Uptown United’s January 2008 board meeting, the Board of Directors considered Labor Ready’s request for special use at 4830 North Sheridan Road for the purpose of opening a temporary help agency.

An overwhelming majority of the Board voted against this proposal. Prominent among the comments was the conviction that inclusion of a temporary help agency would deter the progress of leasing and investment in the surrounding commercial community. Since one of Uptown United’s goals is the revitalization of the commercial corridors, we feel that this would seriously impact our ability to bring stability and new money to the district and adversely affect the leasing and sale of adjacent commercial properties.

If you have any questions, please call me.

Sincerely yours,

Joyce Dugan


  1. This puts a HUGE smile on my face. I sent personal letters to Shiller and the zoning board, and copied everyone listed (Dugan, Scudiero, etc). I'm glad to know that I'm not alone in my opposition. If anyone would like copies of my letters to send from themselves, please let me know.

    Let's make this an instance (the first perhaps?) in which the residents and community leaders of the 46th ward enact real change.

  2. don't forget to email king richie on the 5th floor and to email the unions - most of these people are taking jobs away from union members
    once the unions get involved the media will have to take notice.

  3. Can someone please post the address & contact info for the unions and 'king richie'?

  4. Golly, didn't the unions ENDORSE Ald. Shiller in the last election? Methinks they won't be happy to learn of this latest twist.

  5. The unions did not endorse her, but they didn't work against her either. They were not thrilled that she voted with Daley against the Big Box Ordinance.

    Great idea to copy the Mayor on this.

  6. Mayor of the City of Chicago

    Richard M. Daley
    121 N. La Salle St., 5th Floor, Chicago, IL, 60602

  7. If Shiller goes against the community, it would make a great story in the Trib about an alderman ignoring the chamber of commerce, block clubs, and many other concerned residents.

    I'm thinking she's in an awkward position right now. It couldn't be timelier, and it will add to the credibility of the other postings.

    So Ald. Shiller: It's like this; Do you feel lucky? Well, do ya?

  8. areyou serious? she constantly goes against those things. a good story? perhaps the first time but not after about 1,000,000 instances

  9. With the Trib doing this series on aldermen ignoring their constituents on zoning changes, it would be stupid to just ignore the community right now. Her name has also been mentioned more than just a few times on the Trib's blog with this Trib article. Ignoring the community right now at this time will haunt her and she has to know it.

  10. Here's the address of the Chicago AFL-CIO, which represents over 300 Chicago-area unions.

    Chicago Federation of Labor
    130 East Randolph Street, Suite 2600
    Chicago, IL 60601
    (312) 222-1000

  11. Yep the trains are Shiller's fault and I think the weather last night was to.

  12. The train comment was a generalization of what a lousy job all of the politicians are doing.

  13. I don't recall in any report or discussion that the Alderman is supporting Labor Ready. They require a variance. She asked the neighborhood organizations for their input. UCC, Uptown United, Uptown Business Partners and others all spoke strongly against this.

    Some of you are acting like the alderman is trying to ram this one through. My understanding is that there is answer yet on the variance. Don't jump the gun just so you can bash the alderman.

  14. The person above does make a decent point. She has not publicly made a statement. However, she has had conversations with concerned citizens as to why its not such a bad idea. Given how zoning works in Chicago, concerned residents would be stupid if they took her lack of a public comment to mean that she is still on the fence. Everyone knows you gotta get the alderman on board or you are just wasting your time. This is sooo bad and sooo in Smith's ward anyway (as far as effects go) that it has to be brought down with as much force as the neighborhood can muster.

  15. It's silly to think that this has come along so far in the process without the support of the alderman or at least the alderman knowing about it and providing tacit approval.

    A look at the past record should tell you all you need to know.

  16. anon 10:46 pm = aldermans internet troll

    hey tool, let helen speak, your words mean nothing

  17. I am not the alderman's troll. In fact I supported James in the last election. Maybe you should know some facts before you start name calling.

    I'm not a fan of the alderman in any sense. All I was pointing out is that there are many people who post on here who are so blinded by their hatred of the Alderman that they lose site of the facts. Yes we should raise hell about the day labor issue. I was just pointing out that no where was the alderman on record of supporting this but the tone of the comments were that she was trying to get them in there. I can't speak for what is in her mind or her ultimate intentions.

  18. Folks, spread the word. There will be a "Labor Ready" hearing tonight (Jan 31) at 6:30pm at the Boys and Girls Club at Sheridan and Gunnison.

  19. I didn't vote for her either but I think all the negative constant bashing of her does not help/solve anything.

  20. I agree that while bashing Helen might be the 2nd best indoor sport, it tends to take us off focusing on the issues at hand. So, thanks "anonymous" for pointing out that we should be careful about getting our facts straight.

    That being said, the facts on this issue point to a sympathy with LR, if not public support as of yet. Why she is squandering an opportunity to get people talking constructively about unemployment in Uptown is beyond me. If this devolves into a simplistic haves vs. have-nots shouting match, I am going to be sorely disappointed.

  21. Even Obama says we need to crack down on day labor.

  22. Well, there you go. I got my Califonia-based robo call from Helen Shiller to attend the Obama fundraiser. So,we'll just have Obama tell her what to do from now on.

    I'm sure she's a regular Democrat - or more likely Daley paid her off by agreeing to support her reelection campaign.

    It's good to be King. It's even better to be King with your guy in the White House no matter who has to be paid and which community gets screwed in the process.

  23. Just back from the Labor Ready meeting. Just to settle the issue: Stacey Burke, VP of Communications said "Well, OUR Alderman is Helen Shiller."

    More to come I am sure but they appeared dumbfounded that so many people were opposed to them and not buying any of their crap of how they wanted to be a "partner in the community."

    It was great to hear the impassioned voices of school employees and residents on the issue of our children.

  24. Well I have spoken to the aldermans office and spoke to Denise. She basically said I was crazy for not seeing the business as a blessing. I finally had to end the conversation because she just wanted to convice me that this is a good idea. So dont tell me the alderman isnt behind this business. She wants it. Many People of high stature have had private conversations with her and she has said point blank she wants it!

  25. Earlier I posted that bashing Helen was the second best indoor sport. (Consenting adults know what the first one is.) I have officially changed my mind. This whole thing makes me so P-off that now it is my first!

  26. Hi, there, Mr. Tribune Reporter, you getting all this? The community has spoken, and the alderman is ignoring it.

    Rinse. Lather. Repeat.

  27. Please, if you must talk about Alderman Shiller's chief of Staff, Denise Davis, call her by her proper name, "Shenneneh".

    That, is what she has been called in the community for years. It derives from one of the 6 characters played by Martin Lawrence in his 1990's TV sitcom, Martin, in the 1990's. And, if you saw the show you'd know why the name stick to her like gorilla glue.

  28. I never heard of gorilla glue. I'm hoping this is not a racist comment, right? I will admit that the lack of professionalism on Denise's part is much to be desired and it makes Helen look bad that she allows it.

  29. "Stacey Burke, VP of Communications said 'Well, OUR Alderman is Helen Shiller.'"

    What the hell was this supposed to mean? We're the ones that live here. She's OUR alderman, too, assuming that Burke and the other Labor Ready people live in the ward.

  30. gorilla glue is a product like super glue.

  31. Interesting comments about some people getting turned off by Shiller bashing. I sometimes get turned off, too. I have had to point out differences between Shiller and me, but there's a fine balance with using negativity (anyone running for office knows it works) while also instilling hope. I don't always get it right myself, but I try. Like others, I do get frustrated.

    That all said, I am very much against day labor, but it's primarily due to the harm it causes. It's a quick fix that distracts those who are most vulnerable from taking the needed steps to stabilize their lives. Homeless shelter providers should not be encouraging their clients to use day labor. They should be assisting them with permanent employment, and hopefully one with union protection. In Uptown, we know firsthand that quick fixes quickly break.

    That's the real difference between Ald. Shiller and me. We both agree that compassion is needed for those who are disenfranchised. I view her approach to help as a series of quick fixes and she perhaps views my approach as uncaring. We agree to disagree.

    As other aldermen, Ald. Shiller ultimately has the final say on this Labor Ready Program and zoning. I'm disappointed that no block club was allowed input so I think letters from us will help. I'm also disappointed that neither she nor someone from her office showed up at the community meeting to hear the community's concerns. All I can say is keep writing and you might get her ear more if you keep the letter respectful and polite.

  32. You know Labor Ready's campaign contributions to Shiller will be generous after they move in. Don't make the work for the next election even harder. Protest the zoning change because it is bad but also because we must continue protesting her willful disregard of community voices!

  33. Anyone know what out Congresswoman has to say about this?

  34. One thing I didn't read on this comment list regarding Ald. Shiller:
    The Communications Person from Labor Ready told us that Alderman Helen Shiller pointed their company to this particular building located between 2 grade schools and across the street from a play-lot and the Boys and Girls club.
    The team from Labor Ready said that (I didn't write down the name, but) a person "steered them away from Broadway."
    Now, how is it that one politician (If I recall, somebody that remembers the person's name please help me here.) can steer them away from Broadway, but a hundred angry resident's can have no effect??

  35. Here are meeting notes to answer the previous poster's question:

    Stacey Burke: “My understanding is that in order to open up a staffing agency anywhere in Uptown would
    need a variance. We have been welcomed into this community. Our alderman is Alderman Shiller. Who is your alderman?” She then asserted that Joyce Dugan of
    Uptown United “asked us to stay off of Broadway.”

    [Joyce Dugan’s official letter on this matter states that this business is not appropriate for this location because it would
    “deter the progress of leasing and investment in the surrounding commercial community.”]

  36. I say move it a few blocks east to Stud Terkel's front yard.

  37. To the last anonymous poster: if you've read anything about the community's views on Labor Ready on this site or www.stoplaborready.org, you know that we are NOT opposed to poor people having a job. We wish, and I'm sure if you asked them they would agree, that there were options for sustainable employment that pays a living wage. Labor Ready is not the solution.

  38. anonymous #40,
    Why are you for keeping poor people trapped in poverty?

  39. Anonymous #40: Stop spreading lies and misinformation. Labor Ready will not bring "jobs" to Uptown. They will hawk the manual labor of the urban underclass all the while making $6-10 an hour off them all the while not providing them with health insurance, new skills training or even a promise of work the next day. The little money they will make will go to basic subsistence. There is a reason why day laborers refer to Labor Ready as "slaver ready". This is a band-aid approach that in any other political environment would be seen as a conservative free-market solution to poverty and homelessness. Somehow, Shiller has hoodwinked people into thinking that she ALWAYS speaks in the best interest of the poor. You can't get out of poverty and homelessness if the money you earn isn't enough to put a roof over your head and food on your table. We, as a nation, have failed these people at the bottom. Shiller is just making a bad situation worse.