Monday, August 5, 2013

Marquez Brothers now stalling in attempt to sabotage union

Teamster workers are continuing to run up against the despicable actions of management at Marquez Brothers cheese plant in Hanford, Calif., which is trying to undermine the union’s attempt to agree to a contract. The company, which has gone so far as to send union-busting attorneys to trail workers testifying before the Legislature, is now using stall tactics to demoralize employees.

Chester Suniga, secretary-treasurer at Teamsters Local 517, said the two sides last met July 2 to discuss terms of a deal, and no new negotiations are currently scheduled. The company told workers they were going to get back to them on a last, final offer on wages, but have not contacted union representatives in over a month. And now Marquez Brothers is telling lies, Suniga said:
The company is spreading a rumor that a strike is going on, that the Teamsters are going on strike. We wouldn’t do that, it’s up to the employees. The company is getting them real nervous.
Suniga stated the union is currently seeking a minimum wage of $11.50 an hour for packers at the facility, several dollars less than even some similar non-union jobs pay in the area. But Marquez Brothers has barely moved beyond the initial $9-an-hour wage it set.
The Hanford Sentinel reported the Teamsters are increasing the pressure on Marquez Brothers:
…the union has stepped up local protests. People representing the Teamsters have been passing out flyers at Cost Less and Grocery Outlet in Hanford asking people not to shop there because the stores carry El Mexicano products manufactured by Marquez.
From the get-go, the cheese producer has done everything in its power to try to intimidate workers. After the more than 200 employees agreed to unionize a year ago, management told the factory’s mostly Latino staff that federal immigration officials would be visiting the plant to check their legal status.

Later, they had two high-priced anti-union lawyers follow a worker who appeared before a House committee in an attempt to stop her from speaking out against the company. When that didn’t work, Marquez Brothers fired her.

Legislation currently before the Legislature would prevent employers from intimidating workers going forward. The House approved the bill, AB 263, but it has yet to be taken up by the Senate.