The Joliet City Council on Monday turned down plans for two staffing agencies, a vote that one workers’ advocate said would be a message to local warehouses.
The council voted, 6-1, on two separate votes to deny special use permits after hearing from Warehouse Workers for Justice and others that staffing agencies contribute to the creation of low-wage, temporary jobs.
“What we’ll hear from the staffing agencies and their allies is there’s no problem,” Roberto Jesus Clack, associate director with Warehouse Workers for Justice, told the council. “We all know there’s a problem. That’s why this keeps coming up.”
Clack was among nine people urging the council to vote against the staffing agencies, sometimes contending that companies use staffing agencies to supply workers for 90-day periods before replacing them with new temps.
“It’s no longer a temp job. It’s a perma-temp job,” said Tim Bell with the Chicago Workers Collaborative. “In my experience, temp agencies exist in order to not pay benefits.”
Sonia Diodato with HR Metrics, one of the staffing agencies seeking to open an office in Joliet, said her company provided “unique” services to clients and did not treat workers in ways described at the meeting.
“I would prefer that you don’t paint my company with the same brush,” Diodato told the council. “We’re not in the business of using and abusing.”
HR Metrics wanted to open an office at 232 S. Larkin Ave.
Innovative Staffing wanted to open an office at 423 Collins St.
John D’Attomo, an attorney for Innovative Staffing, said the company has already found full-time jobs for 147 Joliet residents.
But Council member Bettye Gavin questioned how many of those have become permanent jobs and was told 23 of the employees have passed their probationary period.
Clack contended the numbers at Innovative Staffing illustrate that companies are using the agencies to provide temporary workers.
After the vote, Clack said the council’s decision “is going to send a message to the warehouses that they need to have more direct hires.”
Clack said he also planned to speak with city officials about “next steps,” which could include recommendations for some form of certification process for staffing agencies operating in Joliet.
According to Warehouse Workers for Justice, there now are 14 staffing agencies operating in Joliet and 99 in Will County.