Community activists want answers, hiring commitment as Amazon's … – Chicago Sun-Times


Edie Jacobs (left) and Anthony Stewart (right) speak about Amazon’s failure to open to the warehouse during a news conference as community members and union members stand outside of a yet-to-open Amazon warehouse near the corner of Division and Kostner in West Humboldt Park.
Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times
Standing in front of a giant, uninhabited Amazon warehouse, a group of activists on Thursday called on the retail giant to announce when it would open and whether or not it would honor a commitment to hire folks from the community.
Edie Jacobs, director of Get to Work, a jobs placement program, said she’d been given the runaround by several different Amazon representatives and says that local Ald. Emma Mitts (37th) has not been helpful when it comes to getting answers.
“It’s ridiculous,” she said, noting that Amazon officials committed last May to hiring workers from the West Humboldt Park community where the facility — known as a distribution center — is located.
Jacobs said she believed Amazon doesn’t take the concerns of community members seriously but instead expected them to show up “hat in hand” when the company finally opens the facility.
Part of the hiring process requires potential employees to go to north suburban Skokie, a trek that’s an additional hurdle and “just doesn’t make sense” for workers coming from the city, Jacobs said.
Amazon planned to hire several hundred workers at the 140,000-square-foot facility.
A yet-to-open Amazon warehouse near the corner of Division and Kostner in West Humboldt Park on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023. Residents have been asking for Amazon to open the warehouse to create jobs for community members.
Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times
The site had originally been slated to open last year but was delayed.
Anthony Stewart, of Black Workers Matter, suggested the company should relinquish control of the building to the Chicago Park District to benefit the neighborhood in many ways.
“It can even be a warming center,” he said.
Amazon spokesman Steve Kelly said interior construction of the facility at Division and Kostner is not finished, and the company plans to open the facility some time later this year. He said hiring won’t begin until about 30 days before opening.
“We’re thankful to be part of the communities across Chicagoland, including in West Humboldt Park,” he said. “We look forward to working with local community organizations regarding employment opportunities and community initiatives.”
Yvette McCallum, who lives a couple blocks from the yet-to-open Amazon warehouse, said she was excited about working at the facility but feels like she’s being strung along.
“It’s demoralizing,” she said.
It hasn’t been a great start to the new year for Amazon.
The company recently announced it was laying off more than 18,000 corporate positions following a period of rapid pandemic-era growth.

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