FRESNO, Calif. — Striking bakery workers at Corn Nuts got an important boost of solidarity when nine fellow Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers union members from Los Angeles traveled here Aug. 27 to join their picket line.
“You did the first and best part,” Elvia Castillo, who had been on strike for 113 days at the Rich’s Jon Donaire Desserts plant in the L.A. area earlier this year, told the strikers. “You stepped out. You are human beings, not machines. You have rights. Feel proud of yourselves. Fight for what is right and don’t be afraid. You’re going to win.” Four others on the trip were also veterans of the Jon Donaire strike.
Jerry Gil, financial secretary of BCTGM Local 85, explained that all 48 workers at the Hormel-owned Corn Nuts plant went on strike Aug. 15.
“In June 2021 Hormel bought Corn Nuts and changed the medical plan,” he said. Workers are being charged $420 a month and thousands in deductibles and copayments for medical care. “Hormel has refused to recognize the union or the contract we had with Kraft Heinz. They said you either accept our terms and conditions or don’t come to work.”
“We make 2 million pounds of Corn Nuts a week,” Oscar Tabarez, a maintenance mechanic at the plant, told the Militant. The Fresno facility is the only location where the snack is made.
Apolinar Marquez said he had been working at the factory for four months doing packing and sanitation, and he decided to join the strike. Castillo told him, “We had a lot of people like you who had the courage to come out with us. It made our strike strong.”
“When you go on strike you see things you don’t see otherwise,” striker Curtis Williams said. “You see how you are treated badly, aren’t appreciated. The strike has changed us big time, woke us up. We’ve become better people and proved to ourselves we could do better.”
Roxana Rosales, a striker from Jon Donaire, said, “When I talked with them on strike at Corn Nuts, it was like a mirror. The same things happened to me.”
Lourdes Chavez, who organized the delegation from L.A., also was a striker at Jon Donaire. She now works at Bimbo in Orange County and brought a co-worker with her. She told the Corn Nuts strikers how important it is that they have everyone out on strike and the factory isn’t operating. “We had 80% out and the company was able to keep producing,” she said.
Join the picket line at 4343 E. Florence Ave. in Fresno! Get out the word and send support to Jerry Gil at Jerry@BakersUnion85.com. Follow the strike on the BCTGM website, its Facebook page and #CornNutsStrike.