UFW President Teresa Romero joining the striking workers
The owner of one of world’s largest agricultural operations announced last month it was paying a $15 an hour minimum wage for its farm workers starting Jan. 1. A week and a half later, today (Monday, June 14) is the fourth day of a strike by about 1,800 citrus workers at Wonderful Company orchards in Kern County after workers say the company cut their piece rate by the equivalent of $1 to $2 an hour. The $15 an hour minimum wage appears to apply to workers who are directly hired by the grower. Farm labor contractors working for the Wonderful Company hire all the striking workers.
Strikers are gathering starting at 8:30 a.m., at the company packing facility visible just east of Hwy. 99 south of Delano at 1701 So. Lexington St., Delano, Calif. 93215. UFW President Teresa Romero and union Secretary-Treasurer Armando Elenes are joining them.
“Our dedicated and hard-working employees are our greatest asset, and the reason for our tremendous success as a company,” Stewart Resnick, chairman and president of the Wonderful Company, said in the Packer industry publication on Dec. 20, 2018 while announcing the $15 an hour minimum wage. “This move firmly positions The Wonderful Company as the employer of choice in California’s Central Valley.” https://www.thepacker.com/article/wonderful-company-raises-its-california-minimum-wage-15-hour
The strikers are being assisted by the United Farm Workers as they picket the struck orchards and word of the walkouts has spread in large part by strikers using social media: https://www.facebook.com/unitedfarmworkers/ Among the grievances and issues the citrus workers have identified are the following:
Workers complain the Wonderful Company reduced bin rates (piece rates paid for harvesting citrus) by $5 a bin, from $53 to $48. This results in a reduction of $1 to $2 an hour since most pickers produce 1.5 to three bins a day.