Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Teamsters rally for fired ice cream workers in Modesto

Earlier today: Just practicing.
Hundreds of Teamsters from three Teamster locals are putting on a tremendous show of solidarity in Modesto, Calif., even as we blog. Teamsters from Local 386, 572 and 853 are wearing t-shirts and carrying signs that say, “WANTED: Ignacio Guiterrez for Unlawful Acts Against Latino Workers."

They are rallying to support workers fired by ice cream maker La Michoacana. Neighbors and politicians have joined them. Dolores Huerta, founder of the United Farm Workers, is there to show Latino people throughout California are standing with them.

The workers decided to form a union after the company announced it was making record profit, but would cut their wages. Days before the union election, La Michoacana fired long-time drivers, merchandisers, warehousemen and office staff. That's illegal.

Rick Middleton, Teamsters vice president and secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 572 in Carson, Calif., made that point:
This action by Ignacio Guttierez, the owner of Palateria La Michoacana, was unlawful and we won’t tolerate it. No man is above the law and these workers deserve justice.
The workers at Palateria La Michoacana reached out to the Teamsters union in February after the company announced to their workers that it was making record profits, but would be cutting the workers’ wages.

Ileana Herrera, an office worker in Gardena, Calif., came to today's rally:

I had experience from a prior job but I wasn’t getting a raise, that’s one of the main reasons I want a union. I want something better, I want respect.
So did Antonio Casillas, a five-year employee who delivered ice cream to Modesto before he was fired. 

When they came to us in February with the company report they said that they had to lower our wages due to a Department of Transportation requirement. This didn’t seem right and we immediately reached out to the union.