Still no pandemic pay at Cargill

“No matter what language you speak, we all understand the word no. No means a lot. It is a powerful word.” – Ulises David Moreno, Maintenance Committee member

What comes next?

This morning was really difficult. We did something we haven’t done with Cargill yet. We opened up and spoke directly from our hearts about what we’ve all been going through.

We asked the Company to understand things from the side of Cargill workers. We begged them to understand what it has been like for us.

Despite all the challenges we face, we still come in to do our jobs for Cargill,” said Kill Floor Committee member Alain Mendoza. “We are in a confined space and we don’t know who is infected or not. We do our jobs side-by-side and COVID doesn’t care about the barriers we put up. It will infect us if we take the risk of getting too close by doing our jobs. We do all of this for Cargill.”

We reminded Cargill that the pandemic is not over for us. Every day, there are still hundreds of us off-work for a lot of different reasons. The last year has been hard for Cargill workers and things continue to be hard.

The difficulties we face have not gone away,” said Fabrication Committee member Brendalyn Bugsangit. “We don’t complain. But we are working shorthanded, and it is not normal for us. We work really hard to do the job and we worry about putting our families at risk. Even a small amount of money will make a big difference. We are not asking for much, just a little help.”

Cargill has consistently ignored our requests to reinstate pandemic pay and take safety seriously. They have rolled their eyes when we bring these issues up and refused to give us a reason for not paying you what you deserve or committing to keeping you safe.

None of us were ready for the pandemic. No one knew what to do,” said Maintenance Committee member Ulises David Moreno. “I remember the day I saw a friend in the parking lot. I didn’t know that would be the last time we would speak. A few weeks later, I found out he had passed away and I didn’t know what to do. I just kept going, doing what I could for Cargill. I wondered: what happens now? What if I bring this to my kids? What if I bring this to my parents? I’m the one who has to make the money in my family. I’m bringing beef to peoples’ tables, but why is my table empty?”

Despite all of this, it became clear that Cargill just wasn’t listening. Our pleas were falling on deaf ears.

“There was nothing we could say to change their mind,” said FSQR/QA Committee member John Torilla. “For them it’s numbers. For us, it is our lives.”

We will be back in the Plant to talk more about where things are at with bargaining and what we need to do next.

We feel that the Company has jumped the gun in talking about mediation. While we flagged mediation as a useful tool for making progress in bargaining, your union will engage in a consultation process before proceeding.

We continue to be ready to work on negotiations with the Company. However, we need Cargill to show us they are ready to work with us, and so far they have not.

“Our Bargaining Committee has done an incredible job representing Cargill union members,” said UFCW Local 401 President Thomas Hesse. “The stories they told are simply heartbreaking and I commend them for forcing Cargill to face the real human impacts of the heartless decisions they are making.”

Our meetings with Cargill have been frustrating and disappointing. But we know that if we stick together and get ready for this fight, we can push the Company to do the right thing.

In solidarity,

Joseph Kog – Kill 202 
Alain Mendoza – Kill 105 
Rod Larioza – Kill 102 
Myriam Tukku – Fab 555 
Brendalyn Bugsangit – Fab 510 
Faduma Ibrahim Olow – Fab 517 
Navtej Ahuja- Fab 555 
John Torilla – FSQR/QA 226 
Jan Patrick Belonio – FSQR/QA 575 
Gerry Bermas – Rendering 111 
Ulises David Moreno – Maintenance 470 
Ralph Morrow – Maintenance 145 

Your Union Bargaining Committee