Organic frozen food company Amy’s Kitchen dealt workers another blow in an ongoing series of retaliatory actions in response to workers’ demands for safer conditions, fair pay, and a union. Last month, Amy’s Kitchen announced the abrupt and unexpected closure of its San Jose, California, facility, whose workers have been organizing with Unite Here, a union representing approximately 300,000 workers in Canada and the U.S.
Workers at Amy’s Kitchen have been organizing since the start of the year and say that the company has shown a pattern of retaliation, including firing a worker after he spoke to management about his concerns, a lack of bathroom breaks, and penalties for sick days. Now, the company has escalated their union-busting and shut down an entire facility, resulting in over 300 workers losing their jobs.
Alma Rosa worked at Amy’s Kitchen packaging 60 frozen pizzas a minute for a year and four months. During her time there, she said the company lacked basic materials needed to safely do her job, like appropriate gloves to handle the frozen pizzas. The extreme exposure to frozen temperatures exacerbated her arthritis, and she now needs therapy for her hands.
“It has been a lot of pain,” Rosa said. “They didn’t have a lot of adequate material for us to work with.”
Rosa made $17 an hour, without any additional benefits. In October 2021, she said she received a 24-cent raise while other colleagues’ raises varied between 3-18 cents. Rosa met with the head of production to ask why the raises were so paltry, only to be told the raise is what corresponded to each worker. Rosa was also told they would likely increase the number of pizzas she had to pack from 60 per minute to 80. “We were producing a lot for little money,” Rosa said.
Sustainability without workers’ rights and dignity is not sustainability by any definition of the word.