Chicago, Il., July 18th, 2003 — When the strikers returned to work on May 5th, new challenges awaited
them. Health insurance benefits for the returning strikers have not been reinstated. The company claims that the strikers are subject to
a re-enrollment period of almost four months because of the work stoppage.
However, despite the company’s claims that the situation is beyond their control, no documentation has been presented showing that
the company can’t waive this re-enrollment period. Interestingly enough, Art Velasquez’s brother is the insurance broker for the
company’s health insurance policy with New England Financial.
The company has also refused to pay workers accumulating health care bills including bills for prescription drugs such as insulin,
asthma medication and arthritis pain killers. Meanwhile worker’s children cannot go to the doctor for check-ups or for emergencies.
Winning the Fight
On the Shop Floor
To add injury to insult, the company eliminated the full-time mixer machine operator positions and forced general laborers to do the
work. The laborers’ rate is more than $1 an hour below what Azteca had been paying for the mixer machine operator’s position. In the
weeks since they were ordered to take over this job, workers have suffered from swollen arms, injured knees, and strained wrists. Many
workers had to get doctor’s notes preventing them from working that position, and many more are trying to get them despite not having
health insurance to cover the doctor’s visit.
In response to this attack on workers’ health and safety, the union marched on the boss demanding relief. The pressure the workers
put on the boss caused management to begin rotating the assignment on a daily basis instead of weekly. An
additional worker has also been assigned to assist with that assignment.