The San Antonio Central Labor Council (CLC) on September 28 heard an update from Teamster Local 657 member Tony Diaz on the strike at the Pioneer Flour Mills and voted to send $200 to Local 657 to show its support for the five-month strike. CLC President Gloria Parra told Diaz that the council wanted to do more and encouraged Diaz to let the council know what else it could do.
“While $200 isn’t a lot, the door is open for more assistance,” said Pancho Valdez, a Laborers Local 1095 member, who invited Diaz to the meeting.
Local 657 has been on strike against the Pioneer Flour mill, owned by C.H. Guenther & Sons, since April. Guenther, an international food processing company, wants workers to accept cuts to their health care benefit and give up other union benefits such as seniority rights.
Health care benefits are important to Pioneer workers because their health and safety is often compromised by conditions at the mill. Johnny Davila, who has worked at Pioneer for 32 years, told the San Antonio College Ranger that he developed breathing problems from inhaling flour particles while packing tortillas.
The strikers continue to maintain their picket line at the historic mill on South Alamo Street. Across the street from the mill gates, strikers have set up a camp site where picketers can refresh themselves with drinks and food after walking in the daytime heat that continues to reach 100 degrees or more.
Strikers are also picketing Guenther House, a company-owned restaurant in downtown San Antonio near the River Walk, a popular tourist attraction.
C.H. Guenther & Sons is a food processing company with plants in Texas, Kansas, Tennessee, South Carolina, the United Kingdom, and Belgium. It makes flour for McDonald’s hamburger buns at some of its mills in the US and in Europe at its UK and Belgium mills.
It also sells food products under a variety of brands that are mostly used in baking, such as Pioneer Flour, Pioneer Pancake Mix, Pioneer Chili Seasoning, Pioneer Taco Seasoning, Pioneer Cornbread Mix, Pioneer Gravy Mix, White Wing Flour, La Paloma Tortilla Mix, Peter Pan All Purpose Flour, and Texas Style Cornbread Mixes.