Latino Worker Has No One To Turn To; Says It’s Because He’s American

Screen Shot 2013-07-21 at 6.49.51 PMMilwaukee – Alberto
Augirre is an unskilled worker and member of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union. He has worked at Klemants factory for the past seven years and has been a dues paying member of the UFCW for seven years.
This past week Alberto Augirre was terminated from his employment at Klements. The details regarding his firing are a personnel matter, so no one at Klements will talk about it. The union that Alberto is a member of did call to the Spanish Journal to discuss his firing from Klements.
Ike Edwards, represents UFCW local 1473 at Klements, he says Aguirre is not telling the truth. “Our union has represented Alberto thoroughly. It is unfortunate that Alberto is misinforming the public about his situation”, said Edwards.
Aguirre disagrees, he says, “I am on light duty and have been for a while. In the past months however the company has forced me to do work that is against my doctor’s light duty orders. When I went to the union to report what was going on all I got was yelled at and disrespected. This week I was fired for standing up for my rights and the union did nothing to help me”, said Augirre.
Augirre presented the Spanish Journal with documents from his doctor regarding the injury he sustained to his arm while working at Klements. The documents show that Augirre should not do work that require him to lift more than 20 pounds. They also show that the injury happened a few months ago.
“They also forced me to work hours that went against the contract. I told them I was a first shift worker and they placed me on second shift. When I went to my union, again I was told to stop complaining and that I was lucky to have a job,” continued Augirre.
Augirre said that on several occasions he has requested status of grievances he believes the union filed on his behalf. “Every time I ask about those grievances I get the run around and constantly told that they have no time to get to them”, said Augirre.
Edwards states that the union has successfully helped Augirre retain his job several times after the company was about to terminate him. “I wish Alberto would tell the truth and let the public know how many times we intervened on his behalf to save his job”, continued Edwards.
Augirre says that the deals made by the union with the company to keep his job were made without him being present. “They agreed to terms on my behalf I would not have agreed to. I was brought back to work with terms the company and the union designed to help me fail”, said Augirre.
Not knowing what to do Augirre went to Voces de la Frontera (VLDF) for help. There he met with Christine Neumann-Ortiz. When Augirre informed her of what was going on he said that she dismissed him. That there was nothing she could do for him because he is a citizen and that she “only helps undocumented workers”.
“When she said that to me I was surprised” said Augirre. “She then told me to go to my people. I said to her I thought you were my people. She said, ‘go to the Americans’. I just stood there looking at her”.
Augirre said that when he went back to Voces de la Frontera to seek help again, he met with Primotivo Torres this time. “At first it looked like Primitivo was going to do something. Then Christina walked in. When she saw me she asked Primitivo to come into her office. When he got back all of a sudden there was nothing he could do for me,” Augirre said. Augirre proceeded to ask Torres why. “I was told that the union that is in Klements was a union that VLDF did not work with. I asked him what does that
have to do with helping me? I was asked to leave the office”, said Augirre. “I feel I was slapped in the face simply because I am a citizen of this country”, said Augirre. “Christine tells me to go to my people and I did. I thought VLDF was my people. It turns out I was wrong.” No calls to the Spanish Journal have been returned by VDLF.
Curently, Alberto is unemeployed, injured and without insurance since being terminated by Klements.

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