On the Picket Line

‘No contract, no crunch!’ say strikers at Corn Nuts factory

By Betsey Stone
September 5, 2022

FRESNO, Calif. — “No contract, no crunch!” is a slogan of the 40 workers, the entire production unit, who went on strike at the Corn Nuts plant here Aug. 15. They explain the company refuses to seriously negotiate with them and their union, Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers Local 85.

After the company was taken over by food giant Hormel in June 2021, the new bosses slashed their medical plan without notifying them or talking to the union. The plant, the only one producing the popular snack Corn Nuts, is shut down with picket lines up 24/7.

Hormel unilaterally jacked up deductions from their paychecks and imposed higher deductibles as well as out-of-pocket payments, forcing many workers to run up medical debts in the thousands of dollars. “I had to have surgery and the only way I could pay for it was to go into my retirement 401(k),” Raul Hernandez told the Militant on the picket line Aug. 19. Like many here, Hernandez has worked at the plant for decades. “We’re all out together,” he said.

Teresa Kyle, with 27 years at the plant, pays about three times more than previously for health care. She said workers have been working seven days a week to cover their bills. Hormel has put in robots and cut the workforce from 60 to 40. They have also put the workers on an attendance system that reduces the number of days off.

“The company isn’t bargaining in good faith,” Local 85 Vice-President John Weidenbach told Univisión 21.

“We are getting lots of support from members of the community,” said Elena Martinez, who was picketing in solidarity with her striking sister. With temperatures going up to 105 degrees, supporters are bringing by cold drinks and food. The strikers get supporting honks from workers driving in and out of the Amazon warehouse parking lot across the street.

Help build solidarity with this strike! Join the picket line or bring refreshments to pickets at 4343 E. Florence Ave. in Fresno. Email letters of solidarity to strikeline organizer Jerry Gil at Jerry@BakersUnion85.com, who shares them with strikers.