A Message from the United Farm Workers:
Gerawan Farming – which markets its fruits under the Prima brand – is a multi-million dollar company employing over 5,000 farm workers. These farm workers are hardly part of the 1%. In early 2013, the UFW was able to negotiate wage increases of $1 to $2.50 an hour for these Prima workers. For example, general laborers received an increase from $9 to $10 an hour. For those workers who work full time, that’s over $2000 more a year, money much needed to support them and their families.
But $10 still falls way short of what one needs to have a decent standard of living. Four months ago, the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) ordered Gerawan to raise wages on March 15, 2014 to at least $10.75 an hour. But workers have yet to see this increase. In fact, in spite of there being a final order, Gerawan is continuing to flaunt the ALRB order and not paying workers what they’re legally entitled to.
Is there a pattern here? Perhaps. Remember that only last month, workers sued Gerawan Farms for wage and hour violations.
Juan Cruz Lopez, who labors in Gerawan’s fields says, “So much time is passing and they are not giving us what we deserve. Where are our rights? Where are the contract wages we are entitled to?”
Long time Gerawan worker Primitivo Santiago Gutierrez tells us, “It is very important to us to have a contract because we need Gerawan respecting our rights, benefits and better work conditions… Farm workers are the ones who suffer the company abuses of power … Lots of stress, and fear of being fired if we try to do anything, fear of discrimination for exercising our rights.”
Workers at Gerawan labor hard to pick the peaches and harvest the grapes we see in supermarkets under the Prima Brand. They’re proud of the work they do and want to see their company prosper; but they also need Gerawan to comply with the order and the law.