When hundreds of Cargill fabrication workers arrived at the Fort Morgan facility Wednesday morning, management was still dealing with a crisis from the night before. Sparks from a malfunctioning saw had filled the air with acrid smoke, creating a fire hazard and forcing Cargill to shut down the line temporarily and evacuate the area.
Management tried to foist the problem onto the Teamsters Local 455 brothers and sisters who had arrived for their shifts, first telling them they could not begin working and wouldn’t be paid for the delay. But stewards reacted immediately.
“The company was violating the contract,” said steward Anna Raquel Martinez, a 22-year Cargill employee and six-year steward. The stewards reached out to their Teamsters Local 455 agents when they were told they could not punch in.
Agent Mario Balderas arrived at 7:30 a.m., finding the cafeteria full of Teamsters who’d been told they’d have to wait without pay. He sprang into action, demanding to talk to management AND that they make an apology to the brothers and sisters packed into cafeteria tables. “They’re here and you’re going to pay them,” Balderas said, holding the company to the agreement.
“It was important the Union was here to make them honor the contract,” said Martinez.
Shortly after, Teamsters Local 455 members went back to work – fully compensated as the contract dictates.