COMPTON, Calif., July 24, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Hundreds of Foster Farms food processing workers represented by Teamsters Local 630 rallied together with community members, elected officials, and faith-based leaders at Smart&Final's Compton Supermarket today. The protestors called on David Hirz, Smart&Final's President and CEO, to act on the company's pledge to fight for equality and stop turning a blind eye to the unjust treatment of Latina and Black women working at Foster Farms'Compton facility – a key supplier to Smart&Final.
The 245 production, sanitation, warehouse and maintenance workers, approximately 70 percent of whom are Latina and Black women, are preparing to strike at Foster Farms – the largest poultry producer on the West Coast. They are doing so to demand that the company stop violating federal labor law and end its effort to force thousands of dollars of healthcare costs onto its Compton workforce.
"It is unconscionable that Smart&Final is allowing a key supplier like Foster Farms to force women of color in Compton to accept a healthcare plan that could easily bankrupt their families," said Lou Villalvazo, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 630. "These brave Teamsters never stopped working during the pandemic to keep Californians fed and now it seems Foster Farms wants them to go without healthcare coverage when they need it the most."
Foster Farms is attempting to force its workers to accept a health care plan that would increase medical costs by thousands of dollars every year and force the largely female workforce to cover 20 percent of medical visits frequently utilized by women with families. These include labor and delivery, emergency room visits, and mental health services.
The company is also refusing to accept a healthcare proposal made by Local 630 that would save Foster Farms close to $500,000 in the first year and at least $1.5 million over the lifetime of the contract.
"We're here today because Smart&Final CEO Hirz says that 'racism has no place in our company, in our stores, or in our lives,'" said Emma Sharif, Mayor of Compton. "If he truly believes this, then he must hold his suppliers accountable. Foster Farms' abusive treatment of our Latino and Black neighbors is unacceptable and the only way to end systemic racism is to refuse to allow it anywhere, even – and especially – when it helps your company make profits. Our communities have been the most badly hit during the pandemic, and together, we will not stand for billion-dollar corporations cutting our health care and our paychecks."
The Compton Foster Farms facility manufactures Mexican-style poultry products for a range of retailers, including Costco, Chick Fil-A, Burger King, Walmart, Sysco Corporation and Smart&Final Supermarkets, as well as public school systems and correctional facilities throughout California.
The escalating labor dispute in Compton may be a sign of larger labor troubles for the Foster family's food production businesses, as well as the food supply chain in California. Several facilities owned by the Foster family are represented by the Teamsters and other unions. These include Crystal Creamery's facilities in Northern California and a poultry distribution center in Southern California that supplies products to grocery stores owned by Albertsons, Kroger, Costco and Walmart.
The Teamsters and community allies are working to organize additional actions at other Smart&Final Supermarkets in Southern California as well as other Foster Farms customers' retail stores in the coming weeks.
Established in 1937, Teamsters Local 630 represents workers in various industries, from clerical, warehouse, professional drivers, food service, liquor, food processing, dairy and more. For more information, go to http://www.teamsters630.org/.