Custom molder Mold-Tech Plastics L.P. of Chicago was the target of a union protest against companies that pay minimum or near minimum wage. Members of the Chicago-based protest group, Chicago Jobs and Living Wage Campaign, demonstrated against what they called ``poverty-level wages'' being paid by large original equipment manufacturers and subcontractors that win work for the city of Chicago.
About 60 demonstrators descended on Motorola's corporate offices in Schaumburg, Ill. Motorola is a major contractorfor the city and Mold-Tech is a subcontractor of the company. No arrests were made and the demonstrators left peacefully after Motorola security officers broke up the demonstration.
Among the demonstrators was Christen Amy, 37, a union organizer who previously worked 15 years for a plastics company. Amy, in a telephone interview, said she worked first as a machine operator, then worked her way up to an order picker.
Amy said most of the time she made minimum wage or slightly above. However, when she left her job to work for the Teamsters Local 743, she was making $8 an hour. She said the group targeted Motorola as well as its subcontractors based on a survey of companies and their suppliers in the Chicago area that do business with the city.
``Why should [Motorola and others] get the tax breaks and subsidies from the city if they're not paying the workers who live and work in the city a living wage,'' she said.
A spokesman at Mold-Tech confirmed that the company is a custom molder, but said the official stance on the matter of the demonstrators is that the company will ``not dignify their actions with any comments.''
Motorola's plant in Schaumburg produces cellular telephones for which Mold-Tech molds components. Amy said Motorola has a major contract with the city of Chicago.
A Motorola spokeswoman said the company ``is in no way involved'' in the issues surrounding the demonstration and re-fused further comment.
Amy said that although some plastics firms are being forced to pay starting wages slightly higher than the $4.25 an hour minimum-$5 to $6 per hour-it still considers that poverty wages. The Chicago Jobs and Living Wage group wants to see that increased substantially.
The group's latest effort is to present a proposal before Chicago City Council in January that would require companies doing business with the city to pay workers at least $7.60 per hour.