On the Picket Line

Chicago feed workers strike for better pay and conditions

By Dean Hazlewood
November 23, 2020

CHICAGO — Twenty-eight members of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 881 at ReConserve went on strike Nov. 2 for better pay and conditions. The company takes food scraps and converts them into feed for pigs and chickens.

The plant is located in the industrial village of Hodgkins on Chicago’s Southwest Side. Alex Aguirre, who has worked there for 2 1/2 years, told the Militant  they are “way underpaid” compared to other workers doing similar work at factories up and down the street. He also said that the company “doesn’t maintain their equipment,” making work more unsafe, a complaint echoed by most other strikers this worker-correspondent spoke to Nov. 6.

The mood on the picket line is upbeat. Semitrucks rumbling by honked their air horns in support. Strikers said they’re planning to set up a GoFundMe page.

Moises Zavala said another issue is the high cost of health insurance, $150 a week for a family of three. And workers used to get two weeks paid vacation. But since Cook County passed an ordinance mandating  workers get five paid sick days a year, the company says they will be subtracted from the vacation time.

Striker Joe Scaman said the low pay and poor maintenance shows a “lack of respect” by the bosses.