Nearly 100 workers at two suburban factories walked off the job early Monday after some of their coworkers started showing symptoms of the coronavirus.
Management at Raymundo’s Food Group in Bedford Park informed staff Thursday a second-shift worker showed signs of having contracted COVID-19. Workers say two other employees have since showed symptoms. The workers say they worry more will get sick as they all work in close proximity to each other and touch the same pieces of equipment.
Raymundo’s said it stopped production over the weekend so a professional cleaning crew could disinfect the plant, which makes an assortment of Mexican desserts. But more than 70 workers plan to self-quarantine for two weeks. They want the company to pay them as they stay home to prevent further spreading the disease.
“What’s the point of cleaning the plant if workers who are potentially already infected come straight back to work? The company didn’t take precautions to stop the spread to begin with, now who knows how many people are infected,” said Moises Zavala, an organizer with United Food and Commercial Workers Local 881, which represents about half of Raymundo’s employees.
Zavala said Raymundo’s should allow its employees who chose to self-quarantine back to work in two weeks. The company should also provide hazard pay of at least an extra $2 per hour for all employees still working at the plant.
A spokesman for Raymundo’s said it will not pay hazard pay and will hire temporary workers to keep operations going.
“Raymundo’s will continue to work directly with its employees to implement all protocols needed to maintain a safe workplace. Raymundo’s encourages employees who are able to return to work as the facility will remain open,” he said.
About 20 workers walked off the job Monday at a MAT Holdings plant in Romeoville after learning one of their coworkers recently tested positive for the virus.
Florencio Gonzalez, who’s worked at the company for seven years, said management hasn’t been forthright with employees about who’s been infected. “It doesn’t seem like our health is a priority to them,” he said.
Gonzalez said the company offered to have staff help clean the plant last week but didn’t hire a professional cleaning service. “I think they were just in there with Windex and Clorox — just us, regular employees,” he said.
Gonzalez and some coworkers want the company, which makes car parts across the globe, pay workers to self-quarantine at home for two weeks while they disinfect the plant with a professional cleaning service.
A MAT Holdings representative could not be reached for comment.