Workers at El Milagro tortilla factory are back on the job following a walkout last week. But the employees are still protesting poor working conditions and a lack of adequate pay. They also say the company is not following COVID-19 guidelines.
Workers say last year at least 85 people at the facility contracted COVID-19, and five died.
“The company was only caring about their production, not at all about us, their workers,” said Luis Oliva, who has worked at El Milagro for three years. “They never said, ‘Let’s close this plant,’ or ‘Let’s stop this process,’ or ‘Let’s raise their wages.’ That’s not something they looked at. They were only caring about producing tortillas, not our lives.”
Jorge Mújica, the strategic campaigns organizer for Arise Chicago, said the company has improved some conditions since last year, when, at the beginning of the pandemic, El Milagro didn’t allow anyone to use face masks.
There are also issues over wages, Mújica said. The average worker at El Milagro is earning around $15 per hour — the minimum wage in Chicago. However, the company recently listed job openings for $16 per hour, he said.
“We’re asking the company for many different things. Number one: that they give us the wage we deserve,” said Oliva. “And I’m speaking not only for me. I have many coworkers who have been working many years for the company.”
El Milagro did not respond to a request for comment from WTTW News.