Saturday, May 3, 2008

Uptown Residents File Suit Against City And Labor Ready

On Friday, May 2nd, Uptown residents filed suit in the Circuit Court of Cook County against the City of Chicago, the Zoning Board of Appeals and Labor Ready Midwest. The Court has been requested to examine the transcripts of the February 15th ZBA hearing, as well as all documents submitted, and determine whether the ZBA acted appropriately in reaching its decision to grant a special use permit to Labor Ready. Because the matter is now in the realm of the courts, the Uptown Chicago Commission and StopLaborReady will be restricted as to the information they would normally share with the community. When there is news to share, it will be communicated through email communications and postings on this blog. Thank you to all the residents who organized the community, wrote letters, attended the ZBA hearing, and made contributions to the litigation fund.


  1. This is so cool. I wonder how common it is to sue the Zoning Board of Appeals? In any case, a great example of an activist community wanting a say in what happens in our community.

  2. Now if they only did it for Wilson Yard!!!!!!!!!

  3. This has to be rather unusual for a group of residents to file a lawsuit to stop something that their alderman is pushing. I would guess that Helen is a little embarrassed by this, at least she should be.

  4. Embarrassed, or pissed?

    Or both?

    Still ..., this should demonstrate to Helen that karma, indeed, can be a bitch.

  5. Things are changing in your ward, Helen ;-)

  6. Please post address to send contributions! I want to help

  7. Thank you to all who are involved with this. I appreciate your efforts!

  8. Just a "heads up"...
    There were about 6-8 workers delivering "stuff" to the Labor Ready back Parking Lot!

  9. What is the problem with a company like Labor Ready coming to the area?
    Why not take all this energy and funds and use it to something more productive like joining Labor and have them contribute to fight crime within the area.
    I do not see anything wrong with a Company like Labor Ready placing working people in jobs that both everyone on here and myself are not willing to do. They are not degrating the area growth, the people that we allow to loiter are the ones that effect your personal interests. Do something about that!

  10. "I do not see anything wrong with a Company like Labor Ready placing working people in jobs..."

    Personally, I don't see that the issue is about giving people access to jobs at all. If you took a poll, we're probably all in agreement that jobs are a good thing.

    Aside from the concerns about attracting child sex offenders in the immediate area of the Boys and Girls Club and a couple schools, and the possible crowd of drinkers like we see daily at the U-Haul, the main objection that I've heard is that these are day jobs in an area with a large number of emergency shelters.

    I can't think of a worse distraction for someone trying to stabilize their lives than to get sucked into the false hope of a one day at a time job. It's a sure way to encourage lifestyle homelessness and another generation of children growing into a life of homelessness.

    If you ask me, it's just one more example of our Alderman trying to keep people in her ward dependent on her. It's also a way to "stick it" to those she doesn't like.

    Some of us remember the days of the knife fights in the streets among the public drinking crowd. Especially across the street from a park and around children, this probably wasn't the best location for Shiller to say "screw you."

  11. Yes, this choice of locations makes as much sense has her testifying this year in the zoning hearing to get the new Jesus People's charter school located next to a halfway house for male prostitutes.

    They ought to learn alot from that.

  12. The problem is you nor we can not associate every hard working person that enters through thier door as a child molster or sex offender. These people are being screened and yes some people may get lucky and work if they are any type of offenders but once they learn of those who are offenders they get the boot.

  13. Day labor is itself a racket. It doesn't bring people out of poverty. After a day of hard work, workers at places like Labor Ready are lucky to take home $30.

    Read this article, where a group of homeless people in Baltimore worked for years to get paid a living wage. Their frustrations with day labor agencies are spelled out.

    Low-wage workers leading the way to poverty's end

    For example:

    [W]e realized that lack of working, or laziness, was certainly not the problem. The workers in the shelter were working almost all the time. Many would leave the shelter as early as 5 AM and return twelve hours later with less than $30 in their pocket. Time at work included hours of waiting and going and coming from work. None of this time was compensated, even though it is a requirement to work. Workers were charged mandatory check cashing fees, transportation charges and for the rental of needed safety equipment. All of these fees drove already low wages down further.

    We were all working, but nobody had a job. Each day the cycle was repeated: Leave early, go to a temp agency, wait and hope for work, get driven to the job, rent safety equipment, pay for transportation, work, get driven back to the agency, wait, get a check, pay to cash it and barely have enough to feed yourself for the day.

    Years ago, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, activists came to Uptown to rally against the day labor agencies who were bleeding the workers dry with promises that kept them in poverty. Yet now Helen Shiller is working with those same agencies and inviting them to Uptown. She ought to be ashamed of herself.

  14. Labor Ready is just another example of the failed model for keeping people poor and powerless.

    Uptown has been the dumping ground of how we disempower people, create crime and nuture failure.

    Labor Ready is very rich company that lives on the backs of the poor. No future, no hope, no job training.

    The Jesus People have the same business model. The homeless, especially families in destitute situations, are warehoused in conditions I wouldn't wish upon a dog. They are thrown out on the street every day without any stable conditions, only to return each night.

    The meth clinics that permeate Uptown are the enablers that give the drug users whatever they need to stay in their current state.

    Uptown nutures poverty, encourages drug users and alchoholism, public drinking to the point that people simply pass out on the streets.

    The kids in Uptown are wise beyond their years on the ways of the gangs, the stay away from that place cause you can get in trouble.

    Labor Ready is yet another cancer cell in a body that's very sick.

  15. As a social worker, I've always been adamantly opposed to day labor because it keeps people trapped in poverty. In short, it does not follow best practice guidelines to empower people to become independent again.

    Additionally, there was a complete lack of input from local residents, block clubs, and neighborhood organizations in the surrounding area. Added to that, its location is directly across the street from another ward, so the polite thing to do would be to obtain input from Ald. Mary Ann Smith and her constituents living in close proximity.

    The lawsuit sends a message to Ald. Shiller that many active and concerned residents will not be ignored in decisions that directly affect them.

    Whether or not she learns from this is another matter, but in my book, the definition of experience is learning from one's mistakes. This was clearly a mistake given the controversy it has caused.

  16. Thanks for keeping everyone informed, Uptown Update. In the coming weeks, will post news and information as deemed appropriate by the lawyers for the case.

    The last updates were made before the neighbors retained the lawyers and the site hasn't been updated for a number of weeks. However, the site does include a pretty thorough discussion of the zoning aspects of this matter as well as why the number of local residents opposed to Labor Ready moving into this location grew. There is also a link for how to donate money.

    Although there are certainly good reasons for a community to discuss the relative pros/cons of Labor Ready coming here, this matter is first and foremost a zoning issue.

    Thanks for everyone's continued interest. We've got to sign off for now.

  17. So what are you really going after the company and its model of operations, or the fact that this company is coming to Uptown? I live near two other daily pay companies and neither of the two has the type of problems that everyone here is terrified of. No loitering, increase of crime and so forth.

  18. I think the main thing people are upset about is the location dirctly across the street from boys and girls club, elementary school, residential housing etc (and there are other locations nearby that are zoned for this already and arent next to the school etc.)

    Of course many of those looking for day labor from labor ready will not be a risk to kids or neighbors or loitering... however it would be naive to think that ALL will be model citezens- the screening they do at labor ready is basically a qustionaire (ie did you ever attack a previous employer etc.) with no verification other then a sex offender check

    And this location will have a transient environemt of 30 or so people lining up every day starting at 530 am.. besides being out of character with the margate park residential community, this creates atransient environment where someone up to no good could hide with in the crowd and scope out children , seniors , or when someone leaves their home empty in the morning.. this could be someone not even looking for work at labor ready, but merely someone taking advantage of the transient environment of neighborhood outsiders to blend in with the crowd and be up to no good..

    Finally, there may very well be loitering etc by those screened out or not selected for work who arrive at 530 only takes a few bad apples to create a problem, and labor ready will not ber policing the surrounding area ( it could create liability for them if they did)...

  19. Remember Daley owns the courts too

  20. i guess that we are all entitled to our own opinon. I stance is for this business to open up shop. I am against the stop for Labor Ready.

  21. then don' contribute any money. You might want to reread the above posts out loud because it's rather obvious you just don't get it.

  22. “They are not degrating the area growth, the people that we allow to loiter are the ones that effect your personal interests.”

    -Who is this ‘we’ that is allowing the loitering? The police do not enforce the City’s loitering ordinances and people “in the know” say it is because the Alderman’s office has been negative about them doing so in the 46th ward. Also, people don’t loiter here because no one has given them an opportunity to do sporadic and low-paying work. If they are not mentally ill or have a severe substance abuse problem, they are already finding work like that. The point is to get people full-time jobs with some kind of a future so that there is no more time for loitering and going on benders. Labor Ready can’t deliver that. Sorry.

    I live near two other daily pay companies and neither of the two has the type of problems that everyone here is terrified of.

    -You must live very far from Uptown then. What brings you to this blog? There are no day labor agencies in any northern lakefront communities. In order to live near two “daily pay companies” you’d have to live either pretty far west or pretty far south of Uptown.

  23. Loitering is not illegal in the city. There is a Gang/Narcotics Loitering oridinance, but there is a criteria that needs to be meet, namely the individual needs to be a known gang member and/or in a designated narcotics hot spot. If that criteria hasn't been met then the poolice can't do shit.

  24. Remember Daley owns the courts too

    Good. Then I am sure he will be pleased to come out and say why he hasn't done anything thus far. Maybe then he will feel compelled to issue a press release informing the citizenry of Chicago about the appropriateness of day labor agencies in other community shopping districts. Maybe he will say the zoning ordinance should be changed to accomodate this change of perspective. NOT

    I'll bet the shopping districts surrounding Latin and Parker are are zoned the same way that ours is on Sheridan Road. I'm sure Mayor Daley will be totally willing to say that what is good for the goose is good for the gander. If community shopping districts in Uptown should be open to Labor Ready, community shopping districts everywhere should be open to them. Otherwise, it would be one form of zoning for children of poor families and another form of zoning for children of wealthy families.

  25. I decided to google “Mayor Daley and Uptown” this morning. This is what came up on the first page.

    -Daley attends a ribbon cutting for supportive housing at Leland & Racine
    -Mayor Daley supports Helen Shiller and she starts voting for his budgets for the first time ever
    -Mayor Daley speaks at Joan Arai with Shiller and Phil Cline about crime and violence
    -Mayor Daley applauds mixed-income affordable housing in Old Town/Lincoln Park
    -Mayor Daley supports another $25 million for the Wilson Yard TIF, allowing it to exceed the City’s guideline that the amount of TIF money not be more than 20% for any project.

  26. this is exciting

    so much of what our home town does is on a "so sue me" basis

    denied process in the 'hood maybe we can claim process in the courts

  27. Anon 8:52,

    That's why I didn't vote for Daley last time. His support for Shiller just so he can be a dictator instead of a mayor.