Workers walk out at Sauk Rapids Coleman Co. facility.

by GMWC staff:

Something remarkable happened this week in Sauk Rapids. An entire shift of workers walked out of Coleman Co. on Monday,  May 15th. Immediately after they contacted GMWC to update us on what has happened.

The workers have had growing concerns for the past six months. This concern came from an HR personnel who the workers alleged was overstepping her boundaries by coming to the production line to harass workers by pulling their clothes, pushing them physically, following them to the restrooms or threatening to fire workers who voiced their concerns. Some workers have been fired under questionable circumstances as well.

A couple of times before the walkout, workers have shared with us their concerns and we have been monitoring the plant while providing support to workers.

Interestingly, workers have consistently asked the unbecoming behavior to stop and when it didn’t have asked to meet with the senior management which has been stonewalled apparently by the power structures at the plant level.

On Monday morning some of the worker leaders came to GMWC’s office to seek counsel and GMWC  provided appropriate advice.

Around 4 pm workers walked out united because the plant management has not fulfilled their part of the ‘agreement’ to take the workers’ concerns up the chain of the command.

GMWC board members and staff got involved, conducted broad consultations with community leaders to build support for workers and have invited worker leaders to our office to map their concerns.

GMWC then drafted an issue memo that spoke to the workers’ concerns and has provided copies to the senior management at Coleman Co. including the VP and additional copies to the workers and their leaders. Workers have also presented the issue memo to the senior plant management at a meeting on Tuesday.

In the end, the situation has been resolved to the satisfaction of the workers as the Coleman Co. senior management took full responsibility for the improper behavior of the HR Manager. The senior management has also promised to fully address other concerns, including unfair firing, threats of firing workers coming from other employees, and evident prejudicial treatment workers have been concerned about for over the six months.

Management has promised to look into the files of workers who have been fired in the past six months and to bring back workers who have been unfairly fired.

GMWC exists to stand in solidarity with workers in their struggle for improved workplace conditions and we are deeply encouraged by the faith they placed in our organization by reaching out to us with their concerns.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has additional information on your legal rights as workers , including concerted action.  You can also add an app to your smartphone here.

Fighting for Stronger Laws against Wage Theft

Fighting for Stronger Laws against Wage Theft

By: Emily Herne

April 27, 2017

Minnesota Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith

Organizers from the Greater Minnesota Worker Center, Gladys Gutierrez, Taunita Jones, and intern Emily Herne along with worker Yonina Phipps attended and participated in a wage theft panel moderated by Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith Wednesday, April 26th 2017 .

 

This panel, hosted by the Minnesota Labor Education Service at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, gathered five workers in a variety of industries that engaged the audience with their stories of wage theft and the frequency at which it occurs. These panelists were also joined by organizers from GMWC and CTUL and  Minnesota House Representative Tim Mahoney and Senator Dan Schoen. These legislators are authors of HF 1391 and SF 1329, the bill proposed to prevent wage theft.

Gutierrez mentioned the specific strategies that employers are taking to intentionally decrease the time workers can be clocked in. This includes the five minutes that poultry workers are unable to clock in until all of their gear is on. The extra 10-15 minutes a day that these workers are not being paid for adds up to nearly an hour a week. For many workers on the panel and in the audience, the seemingly small amount of work that is not being compensated affected their livelihood.

Lt. Governor Tina Smith and Yonina Phipps

Phipps documented a story from the 2016-17 New Year’s Eve where she was requested to work for time and a half, leaving her seven children at home. When she did not receive her pay for this night in the next check, the hoops she had to jump were complex and ongoing. As a single mother that deals with mental illness, this extra work to get compensation that she was promised is unacceptable. Two months later she finally received a check with the pay for the night, but not time and a half, which is the only reason she sacrificed time with her family that holiday.

Representative Tim Mahoney addressed the proposed legislation that is aiming to protect workers from wage theft. The changes include enforcing an immediate citation to employers for instances of wage theft under $1000 instead of processing it through court. The legislators are asking for $1 million to the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry to hire 5 new investigators. If this bill passes it will also change wage theft from a petty misdemeanor to a gross misdemeanor that allows for a harsher punishment and the possibility of incarceration.

Although the research is out there exposing wage theft as a common and serious issue, the enforcement of penalizing wage theft has been limited. If this legislation is put through the Minnesota House and Senate, it would be a great step towards fair working practices for employees.

 

An article from Workday Minnesota features a picture of GMWC affiliate worker Phipps with Lieutenant governor Tina Smith and mentions Gutierrez speaking on the panel at :

Roundtable exposes extent of wage theft

Greater Minnesota Worker Center Luau Party

Come celebrate with GMWC at our Luau Party!
luauMartha De La Rosa, Executive Director of Wisconsin Jobs Now, will be our keynote speaker at our 2nd annual Gala fundraiser on September 10th. We will also have a special message from Minnesota 5th Congressional District Congressman Keith Ellison.

This year has been a year of exciting growth and change at GMWC. We have seen significant development in our Poultry and SuperAmerica campaigns as well as the start of our Democracy Project. Workers are becoming leaders and as leaders they are bringing change to our community.

The #KeepUsSafeAtWork campaign is just beginning here in St Cloud and we are excited to see workers across industries stand up to demand safe work environments, with the support of the entire community.

We are excited to welcome two new staff members and several new committee, board, and worker members.

We are still here and still strong.

Tickets available Now!

Individual $30

Blue $150 admits 3

Bronze $300 admits up to 6

Silver $500 admits up to 8 1 table +program recognition

Gold $1000 admits up to 10 2 tables +program recognition and special GMWC gift

Platinum $2500 admits up to 20 3 tables+program recognition, special GMWC gift, and Honorable mention by the evenings host

When
Saturday, September 10, 2016 from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM (CDT) – Add to Calendar
Where
Atwood Memorial Center – 6th Street South Cascade Room, Saint Cloud, MN 56301

Buy tickets on line here: Buy Tickets Here!

Striving for a Just and Safer Workplace

Today on Workers Memorial Day we release the results of our preliminary Central Minnesota Poultry Workers Survey, highlighting evident occupational health and safety violations. Bathroom breaks, line speed, unfair firing practices, and religious discrimination are major concerns for GNP workers,

Striving for a Just and Safer Workplace

Fullscreen capture 4142016 13112 PM

 

Building Power for Greater Minnesota