Amazon comes to the south suburbs. Beware of splashy PR announcements.

Congresswoman Robin Kelly (at podium) is joined by other officials at a news conference in front of the Matteson Community Center on June 22 announcing the coming Amazon facilities to the cities of Markham and Matteson.

Governor Pritzker was there.

County Board President Toni Preckwinkle too.

So were other local politicians.

They were on hand to announce that Amazon was building two distribution centers employing up to 2,000 workers at nearly minimum wage, no union.

One would be built in Markham and the other Matteson.

Both Markham and Matteson are over 80% Black.

As industrial jobs left the city of Chicago so have an astounding number of Black residents since the 1980s. Estimates suggest the number of people gone is over 350,000.

Many have moved to the south suburbs in communities like Markham and Matteson.

Originally Amazon was looking to build a distribution center in the City but wanted subsidies. Mayor Lightfoot put the kabosh on that idea, even as a local alderman announced he had made a deal.

Pritzker says no public money is involved. We shall see.

Amazon jobs have a history of being unsafe with a high turnover, known in the business as a “high churn model.”

Yet these are desperate times for workers and the Chicago area has one of the highest Black unemployment rates in the country.

“Amazon’s two new fulfillment centers in Matteson and Markham will serve as an economic engine for Cook County’s Southland,” Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle was quoted in The Sun Times. “I am pleased to welcome these state-of-the-art facilities to Cook County and am grateful for the much-needed job opportunities it will bring to the region.”

Roberto Clack of Warehouse Workers for Justice said, “I understand in the Southland why people would welcome Amazon, but they need to have a sober assessment of what the company represents.”

And the Chicago Federation of Labor tweeted:

“We all want more jobs and more investment in Chicagoland. But these jobs cannot pay poverty wages or treat people like disposable cogs, and low-road employers should never receive public subsidies. Working people deserve decent pay and benefits, with a voice on the job and the freedom to join a union. That’s what we’re fighting for, and we hope everyone will look past splashy press releases and corporate PR to join us.”



2 thoughts on “Amazon comes to the south suburbs. Beware of splashy PR announcements.

  1. Let’s play “Minimum Wage Workers in Jeopardy!”
    A: Sweatshops for the 21st century.
    Q: What are Amazon “state-of-the-art…fulfillment centers?”

  2. From the 1987 film, “Wall Street” —
    – Carl Fox: “There came into Egypt a Pharaoh who did not know”.
    – Gordon Gekko: “I beg your pardon, is that a proverb?”
    – Carl Fox: “No, a prophecy. The rich have been doing it to the poor since the beginning of time. The only difference between the Pyramids and the Empire State Building is the Egyptians didn’t allow unions. I know what this guy is all about, greed.”

    Fred, another eye-opening and informative post. Right on the money…

    Back in 2013 Walmart wanted to build a super-center Walmart on the land at 191st & Harlem in Tinley Park. The store was slated to have hours from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., with trucks moving in-and-out all night. This land was directly surrounding by homes on two sides.

    Those glorious geniuses on the Lincoln Way High School District 210 school board, led by Lawrence Wyllie, the corrupt former superintendent, made a deal to sell the land to Walmart. They wanted to give Walmart TIF (tax increment funding) status for 20 years, pushing the tax burden on to residents while this billion dollar corporation raked in the profits. They wanted to village and county to pay for all the infrastructure improvements as well (courtesy of taxpayers).

    Luckily we beat this back by getting the Summit Hill 161 School District not to approve the TIF. It took two years and many battles with Walmart executives and lawyers but we prevailed.

    Fast forward to today with Amazon…They know exactly what they’re doing and how to push the tax burdens on to local residents. It’s the strategies companies like McDonald’s started back in the 1960’s and Walmart perfected in the 1970’s. They ride into town proclaiming they’re saving to towns, providing all these “well-paying” jobs. When in fact, they only employ 10%-15% of their staff full-time with benefits. They underpaid the rest, give no benefits, and count on a large yearly turnover in order to avoid giving raises, thus keeping their payroll minimal.

    What’s even worse it that most residents (for the entire state) subsidize the other 85% of their employees because taxpayers will be stuck providing them with state health benefits and food assistance. And then these companies add insult to injury by demanding the land they want to be designated a TIF district. This also means that they keep all the sales tax before it begins a sliding ratio back to the taxing bodies. They say with a smile, “This is in your best interest.” They other thing is that when these large corporations come into towns they kill the small businesses, adding another burden to taxpayers. So beware when they come to your town!

    – Carl Fox: “There came into Egypt a Pharaoh who did not know”

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