Yesterday, hundreds of Teamsters, community members and politicians came to rally in support of workers fired by ice cream manufacturer Paleteria La Michoacana, based in Modesto with distribution centers in Sacramento, Sunnyvale, Castroville and Gardena. Last month, the company fired long-time drivers, merchandisers, warehousemen and office staff just days before their election for Teamsters representation was scheduled to take place.
At yesterday’s rally, hosted by Teamsters Local 386, 572 and 853, participants wore t-shirts emblazoned with artwork that said, “WANTED: Ignacio Gutierrez for Unlawful Acts Against Latino Workers” and carried matching rally signs.
Rick Middleton, Teamsters Vice President and Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 572:
This action by Ignacio Gutierrez, the owner of Paleteria La Michoacana, was unlawful and we won’t tolerate it. No man is above the law and these workers deserve justice.
The workers at Paleteria 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:
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.
A five-year employee, Antonio Casillas delivered ice cream products to the Modesto area 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.
Dolores Huerta, a founder of the United Farm Workers union, gave her strong support at the rally.
We will bring this employer to justice. We are here today to show the workers that Teamsters and people all over the state of California are standing with them.