Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Marquez workers to continue fight for Teamsters

Anti-union bosses at the Marquez Brothers cheese facility in Hanford, Calif., have thrown everything at their Teamster workers in an effort to crack their resolve. But employees there are not backing down.

Though the unscrupulous employer recently decided against recognizing the union, workers on Oct. 4 will vote to continue their fight for fair wages and safe working conditions. The company has not bargained in good faith since workers decided to join the union in August 2012, and talks have stalled. Marquez went so far as to spread lies that Teamsters were going to call a strike, even though such an action is up to the workers themselves.
Most workers make $9 an hour at the plant. The union’s bargaining unit initial sought $12 hour, but later lowered it to $11.50. The company, however, never budged beyond $9.10.

If sabotaging negotiations wasn’t bad enough, Marquez went further. They hired an expensive union-busting law firm to tail a worker who testified at a legislative hearing in Sacramento back in March. Although lawmakers called out the company and attorneys for their actions, the worker – a mother of four – was later fired.
Partly because of that case, state legislation was enacted earlier this month that bars employers from intimidating immigrant workers for reporting illegal pay or working conditions by threatening to call immigration officials.

Marquez workers said they are ready to continue their fight. Cheese weigher Juan Cruz said:
If we win, we’ll be sending a very strong message to the owners.
Teamster strong!