Minnesota’s Essential Meatpacking Union Calls On Employers To Establish Child Well-Being Fund



February 14, 2024

Madelia, MN–United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 663, who represents 5,000 essential meatpacking workers across Minnesota, held a Zoom press conference with Unidos MN to call on meatpacking employers to establish a child well-being fund. Union members of UFCW Local 663 are currently in negotiations with Tony Downs Foods in Madelia.

Marbel Bruno has worked at Tony Downs Foods Madelia for 16 years. When he learned that children were working at the plant, he remarked, “These children should not be working, they should be going to school. It’s sad that parents bring their children to the U.S. and then I see the children working here. These kids should be studying because I wouldn’t want my children at that age working. They overcame so many fears to come here and become something. Studying is what is going to give them a better life.”

The fund establishes up to $50,000 per year to help kids in the community. UFCW will work with community partners to determine what would be appropriate to build in their communities.

Edgar, a leader with Unidos MN, addressed the dangers of working in meatpacking. He previously worked at HyLife in Windom, which closed down last year.

“I worked for a pork processing company called Hy Life where I hurt myself not once but several times, my last injury was in my back, limiting my ability to carry out all types of activities from sitting, to the simple fact of being able to walk without pain, which means I can’t even carry my kids again without it causing pain in my back.

Meat processing plants are not safe places for our children and adolescents, not only because of the risks that this entails, but also because it interrupts healthy physical, psychological development and health in general, our children must be studying and preparing to continue building and generating better opportunities not only for them, but also for the community and the well-being of all.”


Watch Press Event on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVLDBN3Yzi8

UFCW Local 663 members at Tony Downs Foods in Madelia have been working without a union contract since October 2023. UFCW has filed Unfair Labor Practice charges against Tony Downs Foods for violating workers’ rights such as surveillance, interrogation, interrogating employees about their immigration status in response to employees participation in protected concerted activity, bad faith bargaining, and unilateral changes to working conditions. The current offer by the company includes $1.65 total over a proposed four year contract. UFCW hopes to come to a tentative agreement through good faith bargaining soon. 


UFCW Local 663 represents more than 17,000 hard-working retail, meat packing and processing, food preparation and manufacturing, healthcare, and other workers in Minnesota and Iowa. We strive to improve the lives of our members and of all working families by fighting for economic, political, and social justice in our workplaces and communities. UFCW Local 663 is part of the 1.3 million-member United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.

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