Strikers demand justice from Grinch

CHICAGO – Striking workers from Carousel Linens and their supporters gave holiday shoppers at Marshall Fields Department Store here something to see Dec. 8. The strikers were chasing “the Grinch,” decked out in Santa attire, from floor to floor.

As shoppers jostled to get pictures, they were handed leaflets detailing the grievances of strikers. Shoppers were urged to press Marshall Fields to drop its contract with Carousel.

Forty industrial laundry workers have been on strike against Carousel, located in suburban Highwood, for 10 weeks. They are demanding union recognition for UNITE, the needletrades union, increased wages and benefits and improved working conditions.

“It is horrible that workers and their families have to put up with this,” said one shopper. “I come from a union household and support you 100 percent. Everyone deserves a living wage.”

One of the strikers said, “No one wants to be on strike during the holidays. We have children who won’t get presents this year. But we will do what we have to until we get justice.”

Marshall Fields was one target of a flying picketline, organized by UNITE, the strikers and Chicago Jobs with Justice, aimed at Carousel Linen clients in the downtown Loop, including the Chicago Athletic Association and the American Medical Association, where they were joined by striking V&V Supremo workers. This was the tenth time strikers had visited Marshall Fields, urging shoppers to take their business elsewhere.

The strikers are working hard to expand the boycott during the crucial holiday season when so many parties and banquets are held. There is hope that if the boycott is expanded to include Carousel’s larger clients, including Abbott Laboratories and Aramark, it may be enough to force the Grinch to have a change of heart.

Messages of solidarity can be sent to UNITE, Chicago and Central States Joint Board, 333 South Ashland Avenue, Chicago IL 60607-2775; fax (312) 738-9985.