CHICAGO – About 30 Jobs with Justice activists, including a half dozen or more striking Azteca Foods workers, distributed informational leaflets at two large supermarkets, Dominick’s and Jewel, here, recently in support of the workers in their struggle to win a fair union contract. The action was part of a nationally coordinated, 10-city campaign to pressure Azteca Foods owner Arthur Velasquez to negotiate a fair contract with the union.

Azteca is a large tortilla factory on the south side of Chicago, with estimated revenues of over $30 million per year. Its tortillas and chips are sold in large grocery chains across the country. Azteca workers won an NLRB election to form a union with United Electrical Radio and Machine Workers (UE) Local 1159 last April, and have been in contract negotiations with the company since May 14.

Azteca workers want improved wages, benefits and working conditions, a fair pension, union security and dignity on the job.

The company has instead come to the table with a set of proposals that would cut wages and benefits, gut seniority rights and expand the use of temporary workers. The workers report that company foremen have become increasingly belligerent and abusive to the workers, the majority of whom are Mexican immigrants.

Because of the company’s refusal to seriously consider the workers’ demands, plans are being considered for a boycott of Azteca Food products, along with a series of new demonstrations at grocery stores in several states and a widening, multi-state campaign aimed at stopping Azteca’s unfair labor practices and paving the way for a contract settlement.

The union and JwJ are calling on people to contact Velasquez to tell him to stop stalling and to negotiate a fair contract. They urge calling him at 708-563-6600 or sending him a message through the UE’s website, www.ranknfile-ue.org/cm/azteca.php. The site also contains a two-page leaflet describing background information on the strike that can be downloaded and reproduced for distribution.

The author can be reached at pww@pww.org

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