Saturday, February 16, 2008

Zoning Board Weighs Labor Ready Request

By Lorraine Swanson, Editor
The Zoning Board of Appeals said it would be several weeks before it announces its decision on a special-use zoning variance that would allow Labor Ready Midwest Inc. to open a day labor branch office at 4830 N. Sheridan Road.

Labor Ready Midwest Inc., a division of TrueBlue Inc. based in Tacoma, Wash., provides temporary, blue-collar staffing. It wants to open a Labor Ready branch office on the border between the 46th and 48th Wards. To do so, a special use zoning variance is required.

About 100 Uptown residents from the two wards turned out to testify before the ZBA Friday morning, packing two sections of the city council chambers. Opponents claim that locating a day labor agency does not meet the requirements of the city's zoning ordinance and would affect the quality of life in the already struggling Uptown neighborhood.

Residents also contend that Labor Ready doesn't do enough due diligence in checking potential workers' backgrounds for felony convictions and sex offenses. The proposed site sits across the street from two elementary schools, a play lot, and a Chicago Boys and Girls Club.

Labor Ready requires job applicants to complete a self-administered behavioral survey that asks applicants questions about past drug use and other behavior that might pose a safety risk on job sites.

Uptown-resident Cindy Anderson and a former 46th Ward aldermanic candidate, questioned why the Ravenswood Industrial Corridor, a mile south of the proposed Labor Ready site, wasn't considered.

""Why didn't we consider this because (a day labor agency) is already a permitted use," Anderson said.

Alderman Helen Shiller, 46th, told board members that she had 50 letters of support for the day labor agency, including letters from Uptown social service organizations.

"Clearly people are looking to work," Shiller said. "In my opinion, we have a developing community and a lot of needs. This is just a small niche."

Two of the ZBA's five board members were not able to attend Friday's meeting. The ZBA requires three "yes" votes to approve special use requests.

Labor Ready opted to let the absent board members listen to recorded testimony so that the entire ZBA could weigh in on the decision.

Gigi McCabe-Miel, who chaired the meeting, said that the ZBA would notify Labor Ready and residents of its final decision "in a number of weeks."


  1. Thanks Lorraine and the News-Star for tearing the sheep's clothing off the fox.

    This is not just about rip-off-the-poor agency coming to Uptown. This is about the corruption and hidden agenda perpetrated by Shiller & Daley.

    Why has every neighborhood around Uptown cleaned up its act, yet Uptown struggles? Because Daley knows that Shiller will take all the crap that no other alderman will take. Dump em in Uptown!

    How do we stop it and give Uptown a chance?

  2. You stop it by placing pressure on the social services to do a better job of monitoring their clients. It's what the other wards have been doing for decades and it's what we sometimes do here.

    Social services don't have to listen to us but they do have to listen to their funders. Follow the money.

  3. Follow the money is a great idea because these organizations need to reapply yearly to get that funding stream. Corporate and trust donors have professional staff that that oversee their giving. They can be spoken to. Then, there are city organizatons, like the Donors Forum, that act as a clearinghouse for information on recipients.

    However, you'd be surprised at how many of our local problems are city-funded. Just check the online contractors list at the City Clerk's website. Ít shows all contractors getting ove $10,000. You'll find 1325 W. Wilson, Bachelor Hotel, Cornerstone (Jesus People), 927 West Wilson, and more.

    Why aren't the city departments that fund these problem operations being held accountable?

  4. article about day laborers on top news
    title is...Another victim of foreclosures: day laborers

    here are some interesting things the article says.

    Already among the poorest, most stigmatized workers in the country, the nation's approximately 100,000 day laborers, many here illegally, are finding themselves struggling as never before. Without the proper documents, their job options are limited to odd jobs for cash. Without those, many can barely feed themselves, let alone provide for their families, here or in their native countries.

    As a result, advocates say, more day laborers are becoming homeless, more are taking risks for jobs that endanger their health or don't pay and more are spending their days haunting street corners, where they are resented, even reviled.

  5. "here illegally" again "here illegally". Now homeless, Uptown will become thier home soon. Wilson Yard will become their home. The streets of Uptown will become there home. Nowhere near Shillers home will become thier home. Not in Daley's city south of Irving will become thier home.

  6. Who are the zoning board's 5 members?
    Assuming they are appointed, who appointed them?
    What actions will influence their decision?

  7. Just so everyone knows, the issues facing undocumented day laborers are different than day laborers who are American citizens or legal residents.

    If you are checking stuff off of the web (which is great) please keep in mind that most of the stuff on "day laborers" refers to undocumented workers. Nationally, day labor issues are a bit different than what we are talking about here in Uptown. We do have undocumented workers in the area but for the most part they will not be seeking employment at Labor Ready because LR will check I9 forms.