You are here

Activists Call for Improved Safety Standards at Elite Staffing, Inc., Leading Chicago Temp Agency

Saturday, October 31, 2015
Press Contacts: 

Roger Kerson, 734.645.0535, roger@rkcommunications.net

CHICAGO – A delegation of workplace safety activists paid a surprise “Trick or Treat” visit to Labor Power, a south side staffing agency owned by Elite Staffing, Inc., one of Chicago’s leading temporary staffing agencies.

The delegation, led by the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) and the Chicago Workers Collaborative, delivered a letter to Gary Cole, president of Elite Staffing. Advocates are calling on the agency to provide appropriate training, information on hazardous chemicals, and proper personal protective equipment for temporary workers. The letter also states that Elite Staffing should pledge not to retaliate against any workers who raise safety, compensation, discrimination and other workplace issues.

“Workers are telling us about exposures to unknown toxic chemicals, machine hazards and other safety concerns,” said Leone José Bicchieri, Executive Director of the Chicago Workers’ Collaborative. “The time to take action is now, to prevent illnesses and injuries before they occur.”

Elite Staffing, Inc. provides temporary labor to Pactiv, a manufacturer of cups and other supplies for major national restaurant chains. The company’s Bedford Park, Il, facility – with many workers on assignment from Labor Power – is currently under investigation by the U.S, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for alleged violations of federal safety laws.

“Temporary work can be extremely hazardous, especially when workers are assigned to unfamiliar tasks on equipment they may never have seen before,” said Jessica Martinez, Active Executive Director of National COSH. “As one of the leading companies in the temporary labor industry, Elite Staffing is in a position to raise standards for all workers.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 800 contract workers died on the job in 2014, representing 17 percent of all workplace fatalities.

Ted Rigas, chief financial officer of Elite Staffing, Inc., is president of the Staffing Services Association of Illinois, a trade association whose temp agency members employ more than 250,000 members a year.

In their letter to Gary Cole, National COSH and the Chicago Workers Collaborative call on Elite Staffing, Inc. to:

  1. Provide safety training to temp workers at each company or worksite where Elite Staffing or its subsidiaries assign more than 100 workers annually. Training must include instruction on lockout/tagout procedures, handling of hazardous materials, and proper use of Personal Protective Equipment.
  2. Provide Material Data Safety Sheets for hazardous chemicals used at worksites of all clients of Elite Staffing, Inc. and its subsidiaries.
  3. At each client company where Elite Staffing, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries assign more than 100 workers annually, form a health and safety committee of workers elected by their peers.
  4. A pledge, in writing, that Elite Staffing, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries will fully observe all state and federal whistleblower laws. In addition, a written statement that the company will not discriminate in any way against workers who bring health, safety, compensation, discrimination and other workplace issues to the attention of Elite Staffing, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.

“’Elite’ should be more than a brand name,” said Bicchieri. “A company that leads the temporary industry must be a leader in providing safe workplaces. Our goal is to work with Elite Staffing and other temporary agencies to improve conditions for all workers, and ensure that every worker – temporary, contract, or permanent – can go home safely at the end of his or her shift.”

* * *

National COSH links the efforts of local worker health and safety coalitions in communities across the United States, advocating for elimination of preventable hazards in the workplace “Preventable Deaths 2015,” a National COSH report, describes workplace fatalities in the United States and how they can be prevented. For more information, please visit coshnetwork.org. Follow us at National Council for Occupational Safety and Health on Facebook, and @NationalCOSH on Twitter.

The Chicago Workers' Collaborative (CWC) promotes full employment and equality for the lowest wage-earners – primarily temp staffing workers – in the Chicago region through leadership and skills training, critical assistance and services, advocacy and collaborative action. CWC has assisted thousands of economically disadvantaged immigrants, day laborers and others employed in the contingent underground workforce to move into the mainstream. We educate about workplace rights, provide critical services to our members, and mobilize to gain full access to employment for all workers, especially immigrants and African Americans. For more information, visit ChicagoWorkersCollaborative.org.