Beginning in 2021, workers at the El Milagro tortilla factories went public with their complaints about working conditions and labor violations, including charges of intimidation, harassment and retaliation. This week, the workers and Arise Chicago said a settlement has been reached in the case between ownership and the National Labor Relations Board over the workers’ complaints.
“What El Milagro workers won is the recognition on the part of the company that they can organize without interference, without being intimidated, without threats, without having to talk about immigration status, which it was one of the things that El Milagro was doing,” said Arise Chicago strategic organizer Jorge Mújica. “So the company has to read out loud in front of the workers a statement saying: You can organize, and we will not interfere. … This is what we and the workers have been fighting for two years. They feel fantastic because there were doubts among them, you know, if I do this, I’m going to be fired. If I do that, I’m going to be reprimanded.”
Arise Chicago said since the workers first began organizing, they’ve won wage increases, ended some illegal work requirements and more.
“The organizing of the workers led to somewhere around $2.2 million in wage increases; some other violations of the law were corrected,” Mújica said. “There are still charges with the Office of Labor Standards in the city of Chicago, with human rights in the state of Illinois. There’s a lawsuit for sexual harassment. So there are still many conditions that have not been solved, and the workers now feel a lot more encouraged to fight against those adverse working conditions.”