Wheeler calls on lawmakers to help women alleging harassment at Ford plant
Rep. Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) used her point of privilege again to address sexual harassment.
Like Jan. 31 during the State of State address, Wheeler noted the lack of respect she was receiving when speaking about the abuse and corruption that “runs deep” within the United Automobile Workers (UAW) union at the Ford Motor Co. plant in Chicago.
“They (female employees) are still sadly having to perform sexual favors for certain union leaders, and so far we have done nothing, absolutely nothing,” Wheeler said to members on the House floor talking over her. “If you’re ok with that, continue talking, and this doesn’t matter while we’re all waiting to go home.”
Wheeler filed legislation that specifically addresses the allegations and details the alleged abuse.
“Ford’s Chicago Assembly Plant and the Chicago Stamping Plant have been particularly harsh working environments, with numerous reports of women being subjected to harassment and physical assault such as trading sexual favors for overtime pay and fellow employees describing graphic sexual acts to their female co-workers,” HR753 reads.
“Last week I asked this body to read HR783 which dealt with the sexual harassment at the Ford Motor plant, and I hope that many of you did,” Wheeler said. “A few of you said it’s a little too political, and I am not comfortable signing my name on.”
Wheeler said, there is still sexual harassment occurring at the Ford Motor plant, and female UAW members who pay their dues are not being protected by their leadership.
“By no means is this a union-busting resolution; this is about sexual harassment and getting rid of corruption in a union for the union members, so if you don’t like my resolution then let’s talk about making something possible because we heard those women during the Sexual Harassment Task Force meeting, and we want to do something for those women who work at Ford Motor Co.,” Wheeler said.
She said if it does matter to lawmakers, as it does to Rep. Laura Fine (D-Glenview) and Rep. Ann Williams (D-Chicago), then please “help me do something for those women.”
“Yet, again I see the level of attention that this issue is getting on the floor,” Wheeler said. “Maybe even though we wore black and put #MeToo, maybe it really doesn’t matter to you because it is more of a political issue than a female, humane women issue.”
She ended with one last call for help.
“If you’re interested, by all means, come forward and help me help those women at Ford,” Wheeler said.