Chicago, Il., February 27th, 2003 A temporary worker employed by Azteca Foods is
hospitalized in Loyola Medical Center following a tragic accident last Thursday in which his arm and hand were crushed by a conveyor
belt. The accident occurred in Azteca's strike-bound Chicago plant.
The temporary employee was extensively injured when his hand was caught by the conveyor belt, keeping him
trapped for several minutes until someone arrived to shut off the equipment. None of the temporary workers or other employees who
were in that area of the plant knew
how to stop the belt.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) began an investigation into the accident on Monday morning,
after being notified of the accident by UE. UE Local 1159 member and striking Azteca worker Josefina Bonilla accompanied OSHA
investigators into the plant, along with UE Field Organizer Leah Fried.
Striking workers, visibly upset by the incident, said that they had complained previously about the lack of a safety
guard on the machine involved in the accident. Noting that they knew how to shut it off, they argue that an accident like this should
never have happened. They say it's clear that the young man was not trained properly nor experienced enough to prevent the accident.
Temporary workers at Azteca are paid minimum wage with no benefits.
UE's Fried says the union expects OSHA to cite the company for several violations when it completes its investigation.