About 500 Illinois environmental, labor and social justice activists rallied Saturday afternoon in Elwood for the Peoples Climate Movement’s global day of action for climate, jobs and justice.
Two dozen organizations from across the state, committed to advancing environmental, economic, racial and immigrant justice, spearheaded Saturday’s event, according to a news release. PCM members demanded leaders and elected officials commit to a 100 percent renewable future; economic opportunity for everyone; family-supporting union jobs; pollution-free communities and workplaces; protection of workers; and prioritizing just relief and recovery efforts for climate crises and natural disasters.
The group chose Elwood because it is a transportation and distribution hub and home to North America’s largest inland port. Protesters rallied at O’Connor Park, across the street from a Walmart distribution center, and marched to the nearby BNSF-Chicago Logistics Park.
“Will County is home to the largest shipping container port in the U.S., and tens of thousands of diesel pollution-emitting vehicles travel through our communities every day,” said Ann Baskerville, Joliet-area resident and Sierra Club Illinois member.
Will County has more than 300 warehouses, according to the release. Most warehouse jobs in the area are non-union, pay low wages and are filled by temp workers, the majority of whom are people of color and immigrants.
“There’s no way the corporations here can’t pay a decent wage and offer benefits,” said Carl Rosen, president of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America Western Region.
The march was part of a global effort, which included more than 280 protests across all 50 states and Puerto Rico, according to the release.
“From Little Village to Elwood, our communities are fighting for the right to breath, the right to dignified jobs and justice in how decisions are made about land and land use in our communities,” said Kim Wasserman-Nieto, executive director of the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization.