Fifteen Latino workers in Shakopee, Minn. filed Federal civil rights charges on Tuesday with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC), contending they've been mistreated by Cretex concrete plant.
All 15 say they've endured ongoing harassment, intimidation and unequal treatment, including alleged defamatory statements including "Mexicans have no brains" and "Mexicans are too stupid to use computers."
Based in Elk River, Minn., Cretex provides reinforced concrete pipe and other precast and prestressed concrete products serving the infrastructure needs of the central United States.
Members of Laborers Local 563 have been on strike since June 19 to protest company plans to slash retirement benefits. The group includes both immigrants from Mexico and U.S. – born Latinos.
Members also contend they've been assigned to more difficult and dangerous work and disciplined more harshly and more frequently than other coworkers. They allege some ongoing harassment has included threats to Latino workers and their properties.
On June 18, Cretex cut workers' retirement packages by about 80 percent, according to a press release. The company proposed that employees would see hourly compensation -- wage plus retirement contribution -- drop by anywhere from $2.91 to $4.07 in 2013 depending on the employee's age and the amount the employee allocates toward the company's 401(k) plan.
Regarding harassment allegations, Local 563 reached out to a Federal mediator to allow workers and the company to discuss future prevention of harsh language.
Local 563 is calling attention to alleged incidents at Cretex by helping organize a rally at the Shakopee plant on Tuesday at 10 a.m.