Employees protest mistreatment at an important food plant in San José

Former employees of Amy’s Kitchen, a national frozen food brand, came out to protest the abrupt closing of their factory in San Jose, calling it anti-union.

Nearly 30 workers gathered Tuesday in front of the closed factory at 1885 Las Plumas Ave. to denounce the alleged mistreatment they suffered. They said they have been subjected to dangerous working conditions, intimidation and mistreatment by their superiors. Employees tried to unionize a month before they were told the factory would abruptly close on July 18, citing inflation and supply chain problems. Three hundred employees lost their jobs.

“There was injustice with a lot of Spanish-speaking and Vietnamese people, (and when I spoke up) Amy’s Kitchen started retaliating against me, threatening my position,” said Ruby Luna, a laid-off employee, encouraging people to boycott Amy’s Kitchen. products “Many of us have children. We have families. We have elderly people to take care of, and it is difficult to go out and start at the bottom to look for work.”

The Food Empowerment Project, which advocates for fair conditions for farmworkers and healthy food, UNITE HERE Local 19 and the Teamsters supported the protest. Assemblyman Ash Kalra also joined the rally.

“We have seen these anti-worker tactics used by businesses across the United States, as workers continue to organize and fight for representation, fair wages and safer working conditions,” Kalra said. “They say we’d rather close the shop then give in to our workers, which is a really sad statement, because the reality is when you look at Amy’s website, she says the food is made with love.”

Teamsters Local 665 Chief Officer Tony Delorio speaks to the assembled media about his concerns about the abrupt closure of the factory. Photo by Jana Kadah.

The protesters’ accusations contrast sharply with the frozen food company’s image of a family-oriented, caring environment that makes organic, healthy meals.

However, Amy’s Kitchen said it is still dedicated to maintaining “a culture of care in making business decisions” but had no choice but to close.

“Like many other companies, we are working to meet the challenges posed by widespread supply chain disruptions, fluctuating consumer demand and persistent inflation,” the company’s public relations team said in a statement. release. “While Amy’s Kitchen’s other three food processing facilities have been able to meet production and revenue targets, the San Jose plant was losing $1 million per month, which the company’s other facilities could not make up for. “.

The company also issued a statement in response to similar allegations at its manufacturing headquarters in Santa Rosa.

“We always take any allegation regarding employee safety seriously. We have worked diligently to investigate and ensure that our working conditions are in line with our values, policies and practices and comply with all regulations,” the company stated, emphasizing that it supports the unionization of workers.

In Santa Rosa, workers say hazardous conditions led to multiple injuries. In January, an employee filed a formal complaint with the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health alleging that workers are restricted from using the bathroom or accessing clean drinking water to maintain line speed. It also states that there are locked emergency exits, worn floor mats, and a lack of proper training for tasks such as lifting heavy objects and operating heavy machinery.

Amy’s Kitchen officials said the company’s safety record is twice as good as industry averages.

Amy’s Kitchen, founded in 1988, opened its first location in Sonoma County before growing into a chain with 3,000 workers in California, Idaho and Oregon. It has become popular as the antithesis of big brands, marketed as a global-minded company with an emphasis on treating workers fairly. The San José factory, the company’s fourth location, opened in 2021 to meet the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Just prior to the plant closing, Unite Here Local 19 filed multiple unfair labor practice charges against Amy’s Kitchen with the National Labor Relations Board on June 1, alleging that workers in San Jose had been fired or disciplined for trying to organize a sindicate.

Lauren Ornelas, founder of the Food Empowerment Project, called on the company to prove its financial losses.

“No more lies. No more trying to hide behind this facade you’ve created for your company,” Orenals said. “Come out and prove exactly what you’re saying: that you didn’t shut down and cost the livelihood of 300 people in our community because you didn’t I wanted them to talk about his (mistreatment). Try it.”

Contact Jana at [email protected] either @JanaKadah On twitter.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published.