Keep Me in the Loop!

Three new UFW contracts include big Central Valley nursery plus first table grape grower since ’95

For Release: December 23, 1997

Three new UFW contracts include big Central Valley nursery plus first table grape grower since ’95

More than 500 California farm workers are the latest to benefit from a United Farm Workers field organizing and negotiating campaign that racked up three new contract victories in late 1998. These UFW agreements protect workers at large table grape, nursery and vegetable firms.

Altogether, 17 growers have signed new union contracts since the drive began in 1994. Since then, farm workers have also voted for the UFW in 15 straight secret ballot elections.

Some 240 vineyard workers at Nash De Camp Farms in Visalia, Calif. are now covered under a UFW contract signed in November. It is the first such agreement since 1995 between a California table grape grower and the union founded by Cesar Chavez.

Under the Nash De Camp pact, workers are receiving a 5% pay increase, improvements in medical coverage and paid vacations, and a union pension plan. Other gains important to workers included a grievance and arbitration procedure, job security and seniority.

L.E. Cooke Co., one of the largest nurseries in California’s Central Valley, signed a first-ever UFW contract in December. The Visalia-based firm supplies rose, flower and tree fruit plants to growers across California. L.E. Cooke employs about 100 year-round workers. Its peak harvest work force is about 250.

Last Feb. 11, L.E. Cooke workers voted 146 to 51 for the UFW in balloting conducted by the state Agricultural Labor Relations Board. With the L.E. Cooke contract, the UFW represents more than 50% of workers in the Central Valley rose industry.

Highlights of the contract include the workers’ first pension plan as well as job security and seniority protection, paid holidays and vacations, and a grievance and arbitration procedure.

Also recently signing a UFW contract was Oceanview Produce Co., a Ventura County subsidiary of the giant Dole food corporation. This agreement covers 40 employees who perform tractor and irrigation work. They won a wage increase, seniority and job security, and a grievance and arbitration procedure. The UFW also settled an unfair labor practice complaint against Oceanview that provided $246,000 for roughly 200 celery workers who were displaced by the company.

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