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Unfair Labor Practice Charges
UE Charges Azteca
With 'Bad Faith Bargaining'

JANUARY 23 — CHICAGO — UE has formally charged Azteca Foods with bad faith bargaining and obstructing the union's efforts to reach a first contract in two Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charges filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Tuesday.

The legal action follows more than eight months of fruitless bargaining and the company's apparent unwillingness to reach an agreement that would end a nearly five month old unfair labor practice strike at its Chicago headquarters.

The bad faith bargaining charge accuses the company of engaging in "surface bargaining" or, more simply, bargaining without intending to reach an agreement.

UE argues that Azteca has made concessionary demands — offering less to its workers than had been contained in their previous union contract — without even offering an adequate explanation. Further, the union charges that Azteca has refused to meet face-to-face with the bargaining committee and has tried to condition bargaining sessions on the union first submitting written proposals in the mail.

Further hampering bargaining, UE says Azteca has delayed or refused to provide information needed for the union to negotiate. Information requests are a routine part of bargaining which employers are required to respond to in a timely fashion.

A previous set of ULP charges against Azteca for its use of threats, interrogation and surveillance were upheld by the NLRB. In that case, Azteca is charged with threatening workers with termination for participating in an informational picket outside the plant.

Azteca workers, who make Azteca brand refrigerated tortillas, tortilla chips and salad shells and Buena Vista brand fat-free tortillas, have been on the picket line in an Unfair Labor Practice Strike since September 30th. They are looking for their first UE contract, following a representation election in which they chose UE over a corrupt, company union by a margin for more than three-to-one.

Azteca is a privately-held company with estimated revenues of about $30 million a year.

The majority of Azteca workers are women who have been employed by Azteca for more than 12 years and a third have over 20 years with the company. They are almost all Spanish speaking Mexican immigrants.

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“We have no dispute with any person other than Azteca Foods,
and we are not asking anyone to cease picking up, delivering or transporting
any goods, or to cease performing any work or services.”