Union remembers Cargill worker who died as a ‘quiet, gentle and humble man’

Union remembers Cargill worker who died as a ‘quiet, gentle and humble man’

CALGARY — The union representing workers at the Cargill meat processing plant in southern Alberta has paid tribute to the second employee who died as a result of COVID-19.

Benito Quesada, who was 51, was a union shop steward at the High River, Alta plant.

He died in hospital last weekend after contracting the novel coronavirus in April.

Nearly half of the 2,000 employees have tested positive for COVID-19 since the outbreak began, which led to a temporary two-week shutdown of the facility.

Quesada had been working at Cargill since 2007.

He was known in the plant as a “brown hat,” which means he served his co-workers as a union shop steward.

“Benito was a quiet, gentle, and humble man who came to Canada from Mexico to work at the Cargill plant in High River,” said UFCW 401 spokesperson, Michael Hughes.

“He always told me how proud he was for having been able to bring his family to Canada.”

UFCW 401 President Thomas Hesse said it’s important to recognize that behind the statistics are hardworking people who are trying to make a living and support their families.

He said Quesada became ill in mid-April and had been in hospital since then.

“We believe he was in a medically-induced coma on a ventilator for a considerable period of time. What he and his family must have faced over the past several weeks is unimaginable,” Hesse said.

“We are working to provide whatever support we can to the family of our brother, Benito. Our whole union grieves this terrible loss.”

Hiep Bui, who was 67, was the first Cargill worker to die on April 19. She worked at the plant for 23 years and was responsible for picking out beef bones from hamburger meat. She became ill on her shift on a Friday, was hospitalized the next day and died on the Sunday.

Cargill said it has reached out to Quesada’s family and offered its heartfelt condolences to his wife.

“We are saddened by the loss of our colleague Benito Quesada,” the company said in a statement. “He was a dedicated employee for more than 12 years.

“Benito was a colleague and friend, serving as a partner in his role as a union steward. We are grieving with the community as we face loss and illness together. We will honour Mr. Quesada with his colleagues today and continue to fly our flag at half-mast in memory of our colleagues.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 12, 2020

— Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

robbery
UPDATE: Suspect identified in early morning shooting

Rimbey RCMP had responded to a complaint of an armed robbery at the Bluffton City General Store

Many rural municipalities were concerned about a proposed reduction to their industrial revenues, but Alberta’s Municipal Affairs minister has come up with an alternative solution. (Photo contributed)
Province and rural municipalities agree on a plan to support Alberta’s energy industry

Creating new wells or pipelines would result in a three year ‘tax holiday’

The influenza vaccine will be available at no cost starting Monday in Alberta. “The more that we can avoid influenza-related tests, emergency visits and hospitalizations, the stronger our system will be to support those with COVID-19 and all other health needs," says Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Hinshaw urges Albertans to get flu shot as COVID cases jump by 332

Alberta’s central zone now has 132 active COVID-19 cases

The Bellows family on vacation last year in Mexico. L-R: Angel, Ryan, Darrel, Grace and Michael. (Photo submitted)
Rimbey community rallying behind family after cancer diagnosis

Michael Bellows, 12, a ‘strong, resilient kid’ says father

Across the province, there are 2,738 active cases of COVID-19, with 18,417 recovered cases. There have been 288 deaths from the virus in Alberta since the beginning of the pandemic. (File photo)
Alberta reports 244 additional COVID-19 cases Thursday

2,738 active cases of COVID-19 in the province

In this photo provided by Shannon Kiss, smoke from the CalWood Fire billows, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, as seen from Gunbarrel, Colo. (Shannon Kiss via AP)
‘First guys out:’ Western Canadian air tanker fleet busy despite drop in wildfires

CEO believes wildfires have become more dangerous in recent years as people live closer to where they start

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Executive Director of Agape Kate Halas (left) receives $1000 from Sgt. Eric Christensen (right) on behalf of Agape. Photo/ Shaela Dansereau.
Former Wetaskiwin Peace Officer wins provincial award; gives back to Wetaskiwin community

Eric Christensen has won the Alberta Association of Community Peace Officers Award of Excellence.

Agriculture Minister Devin Dreeshen (Alberta government photo)
Big boost for Alberta college agriculture research

The $2-million agreement to benefit Lethbridge College’s applied research team

Grant and Barbara Howse, in quarantine in Invermere. Mike Turner photo
Denied entry into U.S., Canadian couple still forced to quarantine for 2 weeks

The rules around crossing the U.S. border led to a bizarre situation for an Invermere couple

Employee Sophia Lovink shows off a bag of merchandise in Toronto on Thursday, June 11, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Canada gets C-average grade on 2nd year of cannabis legalization

Cannabis Council of Canada releases report card on federal government and legalization

Canadian and American flags fly near the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada-USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. Restrictions on non-essential travel between Canada and the United States are being extended until at least Nov. 21. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke
Non-essential travel restrictions at Canada-U.S. border extended to at least Nov. 21

The restrictions do not apply to those providing essential services in either country

(The Canadian Perss)
Banff wolves have lower survival rate due to hunting, trapping outside park boundary

Researchers looked at 72 radio-collared wolves in the national park from 1987 to August 2019

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at Miramar Regional Park in Miramar, Fla., Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is still hopeful about the Keystone pipeline if there’s a change in government in the U.S. next month, saying Alberta has been engaging with American officials from both sides of the aisle. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Carolyn Kaster
Alberta premier says he’s still hopeful about Keystone, even if Biden elected

The Alberta government has agreed to invest about US$1.1 billion as equity in the project

Most Read