Since last month, production line workers at the El Milagro tortilla factories have organized walkouts and rallies with the help of workers’ rights group Arise Chicago.
The workers sought to call attention to what they say are unsafe working conditions, unfair labor practices, intimidation from management, and incidents of sexual harassment.
Laura Garza of Arise Chicago says this has been a busy week for the workers at El Milagro hoping to improve their working conditions. Tuesday, organizers filed complaints with the Chicago Office of Labor Standards about paid sick leave and fair work week violations as well as the Illinois Department of Labor on violations of the One Day Rest in Seven Act. The following day, El Milagro announced it is ending its seven-day workweek and workers will get Sundays off beginning in November.
Longtime El Milagro employee Martín Salas was one of the first workers to speak out about conditions at the factories. He says that though workers are still not calling for a boycott of El Milagro products, the community has shown they support the workers’ fight.
“If the community wants to do it, I can’t say, “No, don’t do it,” because it their way of giving us support for the issues that we are experiencing,” said Salas. “The community wants to see that El Milagro is treating workers with respect and dignity in every facility.”
Chicago Tonight contacted El Milagro ownership for comment but did not receive a reply.
Tuesday, November 2, the El Milagro Workers Committee and Arise Chicago are remembering the five workers who died last year from COVID-19 in a Día de los Muertos event.
The vigil will take place outside of El Milagro, 3048 W. 26th St., at 7:30 pm.