Warehouse workers launch air quality study in Joliet

Project is aimed at showing air pollution from Joliet-Elwood area warehouse industry

Warehouse Workers for Justice, an organization devoted to improving working conditions for warehouse workers, has announced an air-monitoring project aimed at showing air pollution created by the local logistic industry and is calling for a faster shift toward electric trucks.

The organization, along with community organizations joining in the project, hosted kickoff event Saturday at Nowell Park in Joliet.

The project comes on the heels of The Lion Electric Company’s recent announcement that it will open a Joliet factory to make electric trucks and buses in late 2022.

Warehouse Workers for Justice is urging local warehouse and distribution companies to move faster toward electric vehicles for the sake of air quality.

“Warehousing and logistics are here to stay, but the recent announcement of Lion Electric coming to the area points to the direction this industry is headed.” Yana Kalmyka, labor and environment organizer for Warehouse Workers for Justice, said in a news release announcing the project. “We want these local warehouses to be some of the first to invest and buy these electric freight vehicles.”

According to the group, the study is aimed at monitoring air quality from the Joliet-Elwood inland port operations.

“I believe we can fundamentally change the industry,” Warehouse Workers for Justice Executive Director Roberto Clack said at the Nowell Park event, which was posted to the organization’s Facebook page. “I’m excited about this project.”

The release said “the goal of the project is to shed light on the depth of air pollution caused by the area’s massive warehousing and logistics industry.”

The University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health and the Illinois Clean Jobs Union will partner with Warehouse Workers for Justice in air testing planned to run at least into September and compiling a report to come near the end of the year, according to the release.

Warehouse Workers of Justice is the lead organization in the project and is joined by Sunrise Joliet, the Joliet Junior College Sustainability Union and Just Say No to NorthPoint.

Bob Okon

Bob Okon covers local government for The Herald-News