Chicago, Geoffrey Lewis, Gonzales discussed on Democracy Now! Audio
What nobody wanted by. Geoffrey lewis voltage. This is democracy. Now i mean good with one gonzales. We end today's show in chicago. Where workers at on the law growth tortilla plant station temporary walkout to protest low pay staff shortages and abusive working conditions including intimidation and sexual harassment. When they return to work discovered management had locked them out in retaliation. This is el milagro worker. Ama- gonzales they didn't let go back to work. We had our personal belongings inside the plan. In my case i'm pregnant. My medicine was still inside and they denied us entry. This is not fair. we're simply fighting for our rights. We're not trying to harm the company. El milagro claims and ongoing tortilla shortages due to supply chain issues but organizers say the company's lost staff due to their poor treatment of workers including their mishandling of the pandemic last year. Dozens of workers got sick during a covert outbreak. Five died this is another magog or worker. My team solace in cool changed up occupy peck tortilla packages. Per minute. i load a case. Put it on a pallet and come right back. Because if i don't keep up this pace tortillas will fall off the machine and they'll blame me. Workers have given el milagro management until end of day wednesday to respond to their demands. The company was founded in chicago in one thousand nine hundred fifty by raul lopez mexican immigrant cells tortillas around the country for more. We go to chicago to speak with horrid mujica strategic campaigns organizer at arise chicago. Or you've been working closely with the workers for several years. Can you talk about what the demands are. And what will happen on wednesday. Yes thank you very much. Good morning on wednesday. Nothing yet because we gave or the workers gave the company a deadline to the end of the day but on thursdays surely workers are going to come back and demand answers from the company. Their main demands are a fair wages kale because the company's paying only forty cents above minimum wage and at the same time advertising new jobs for sixteen dollars so sixty cents a bowl people who have been working there for ten fifteen twenty and twenty years. That's the most important that man they say. The allegra needs to track me workers and that is going to happen if they increase wages and the other one is definitely to reduce the speed of the machines where workers are telling us. Is that the company instead of offering better wages. I'm hiring more. People is just cranking up the machines so they have to pack eighty packages per minute. I mean less than one second to pac twelve thirteen years. Gluing paper envelope on the in the in the boxes. So that's insane. They say okay. They increase the speed of the machines. But they can't increase hours meet. We are not machines so they want to put a stop on that. Could you talk for people who are not familiar with milagro the importance of this this facility and the plants that it has in the in the mexican american community of milagro tortillas are famous throughout chicago in the mid west and the fact that it's largely a mexican ownership as well. Yes they are the most famous and largest maker in the mid west. They've you go by one of the plans. They they have five plants and three restaurants. If you go to one of the plans are four o'clock in the morning you would see. Trucks lining up from ohio from iowa from wisconsin wisconsin michigan. I mean this is Amazing millions of tortillas every day. They're incredibly famous. They are good and they are good. Because it workers really you know Put their best there for two to produce this thirty s and this is family owned family controls. The whole consortium and they are steal the with practices belonging the nineteen seventies under the one thousand nine hundred eighty s. They they only by call new machines every year but conditions are really awful. This is a sweatshop and last year over eighty of the employees. Came down with colbert and five die. What kind of health and safety a protocols were they using their non at all and We have all pretty much criminal behaviors. There where they forbade workers to wear face masks. They told them that. No the you know. The workforce was going to feel on stable. If they saw anybody wearing face masks so they'd they'd be metal. Al anyone to do it for a while. On -til of course off diseases spread and people started dying and then they shut down one of the five plants to clean it out but as we're told the workers last year the machines sneeze. This is people to people. Person to person contagion solo. The workers got up together and impose know some basic precautions and then down the line there. The company decided to to respect social these units era. But this is crowded. Space designed for production is not designed as any other productions space is not designed to take care of people's health is designed to produce merchandise and getting money can you what about the sexual harassment allegations as well. Sorry yes. there are several sexual harassment. Accusations workers complained that they have denounced the to management and what management does is to move the supervisor from one plan to the next one instead of solving the problems that have training their supervisor instead of raising really would've standards and where he can you talk about what happened to the workers after they Had their rally last week. We just played air to gonzalez Chuck being pregnant and being locked out of punch couldn't get her medication. What the plans are for tomorrow for wednesday. We had called the police and the police came an open of the planning to allow workers to to get their personal belongings and the next day we went with it. Workers through report to a human resources and human resources simply gave off saying we will pay you for the hours. You're lost yesterday. The lockout saw it was a round victory for workers. The workers are demanding. Now is the plant. The management to sit down with the management just hired a union boston to go and talk to them about how bad unions are workers. Say he's talking about unions. We're talking about decency. We are talking about wages. We are talking about the heat. In the workplace they work at ninety five degrees including their mealtime launch room. Ninety five degrees. That's what we want to talk about.