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Latest News - November 2013

November 4, 2013
Marquez workers dump Teamsters union at Hanford cheese plant
By: Seth Nidever

Teamsters voted out after long battle at Hanford plant

HANFORD — Workers at Marquez Brothers cheese plant voted Friday to dump the Teamsters union, closing out a yearlong effort to organize the mostly Hispanic workforce.

The narrow 85-83 vote to decertify the Teamsters, coming more than a year after the plant’s workers voted to establish the union, was a heavy blow for Teamsters officials.

The vote still needs to be certified by the National Labor Relations Board. Union officials said they would file a routine challenge, but they didn’t think it would overturn the result.

“It’s clear to me that people still want better wages and working conditions,” said Doug Bloch, Teamsters Joint Council 7 political director. “At the same time, people were intimidated and harassed on an almost daily basis for the last year.”

Marquez spokesman David Silver couldn’t be reached for comment.

The vote comes more than a year after the approximately 185 workers at the facility overwhelmingly voted to established the Teamsters at the Marquez facility, which pays most of its workers $9 an hour.

Union officials, who represent employees at one of two Leprino Foods facilities in Lemoore, said similar jobs at Leprino pay in the $18-$20 range.

But while some workers embraced the concept of a strong union challenging company officials for better pay and other improvements, it was a turnoff for others.

“We didn’t like their strategy, the tactics,” said Jose Agustin Perez, a quality control worker who opposed the Teamsters from the beginning. “They were very aggressive.”

“I feel unions bully people to get what they want,” Perez added. “I respect Marquez. We don’t know what the company’s financial situation is.”

Friday’s election results were a setback for the Teamsters campaign to make inroads into primarily Latino food processing facilities in the San Joaquin Valley.

Union officials said that the recent federal government shutdown, which delayed the election originally scheduled for Oct. 4, may have harmed the union cause by giving the company more time to influence workers.

“We lost this battle, but we haven’t lost this war,” Bloch said. “The Teamsters aren’t going anywhere with Marquez Brothers.”

According to NLRB rules, the union must wait another year before another election can be held at the facility.

 

 

 


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