In late January at its biannual meeting, the National Farm Worker Ministry Board of Directors met at La Paz with Gerawan Farming Inc. workers who gave first-hand accounts that mirrored California state officials’ accusations of gross law breaking by the giant grower with its Prima label. Especially distressing was hearing the Gerawan workers describe how they became victims of illegal retaliation for engaging in union activities protected by California law.
CEO Dan Gerawan in May reached out to NFWM Executive Director Lindsay Comstock as well as other United Farm Workers supporters to express his frustration with state law and his continued intention not to implement the workers’ contract issued by a neutral state mediator and the California farm labor board. Conservative calculations by the UFW show that by refusing to implement this contract, Dan Gerawan is depriving his workers of many millions of dollars owed to them in wages and benefits retroactive to July 2013, as well as millions more over the contract’s duration.
This week, after negotiating an $11 an hourly pay raise for Gerawan workers plus a 10 percent increase for all other crew and cultural employees effective July 1, 2014, UFW National Vice President Armando Elenes further proposed that Gerawan increase the hourly base rate to $15 an hour plus another 15 percent increase for other crew and cultural workers. The union also wants Gerawan to agree to a 15 percent increase for all piece rates and urged the company to apply all pay hikes to the many company employees hired through farm labor contractors. Gerawan refuses to apply the wage hikes to labor contractor employees laboring at the company.
In light of Dan Gerawan’s continuing refusal to abide by law, NFWM asks each of you to bring the plight of Gerawan workers to the immediate attention of your constituency as well as retailers across the nation that carry Prima-brand products.