Alton, Illinois — Spirits of the dead in the river city of Alton, Illinois, voted last night to organize as a union affiliated with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Everett Johnson, a lawyer representing the ghosts, says he will begin negotiations with the town’s haunted house tour guides, spirit shops, and even owners of haunted properties.
“The living have been exploiting these tortured souls for decades,” Johnson told Hennessy’s View. “The exploitation has gotten significantly more pronounced in recent years, though.”
More than 20 Alton companies capitalize on the town’s reputation for hauntings. Some of the small firms generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in the weeks surrounding Halloween alone.
Mavis Carter, proprietor of Mavis’s Haunted Alton Tours and Spirit Fest, says she may be forced to shut down as a result of the ghost’s action.
“Look, we’re a tiny business. We employ a couple of people year round and few more during Halloween season. I barely make a profit on this as it is. If I have to pay the ghosts, too, I’d be better off taking it easy.”
Mike Edwards of SEIU Local 67 in Alton says tour operators like Carter deserve to go under.
“These tour operators are modern-day slave traders. They exploit the dead for profits, invade their private residences, and give nothing back.”
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office would not respond to requests for information on the legal standing of ghosts in Illinois, but an employee in the AG’s office spoke with Hennessy’s View on condition of anonymity.
“I’ve been an attorney for twenty years, and I think it’s long past the time for something like this,” the anonymous source told us. “Human rights of privacy, property, and a living wage don’t end when you die.”
According to Edwards of the SEIU, there are about nine thousand known and exploited ghosts living in and around Alton. While his union represents only a half-dozen of the more prominent hauntings, he hopes to organize all the ghosts in the river town by end the 2015. But Edwards admits the task won't be easy.
"A lot of these ghosts died before the labor movement really got underway in the late nineteenth century," he said. "There's a lot of Confederate Civil War dead in Alton. When they hear 'union,' they think 'Yankee invaders' not organized labor."
“For me, it’s a matter of posthumous social justice,” Edwards said.