Four-day strike by 1,800 Wonderful citrus workers protesting pay cut by grower’s farm labor contractor with help from UFW agree to return to work after company agrees to restore pay cuts
Some 1,800 Kern County citrus harvesters agreed to end their four-day strike today (Monday, Jan. 14) after the Wonderful Company producing Halos mandarins agreed to restore pay cuts amounting to $1 to $2 an hour that were imposed on workers last week. Workers say they still have other grievances to resolve, but will return to their jobs.
“Farm workers were upset about the pay cut unilaterally imposed by the Wonderful Company farm labor contractor,” said United Farm Workers Secretary-Treasurer Armando Elenes. “Workers asked the United Farm Workers for help and after four days on strike they decided to go back to work after the company agreed to restore their previous higher pay rate. This is another example of how when farm workers organize together to defend themselves, we win.”
Company owner Stewart Resnick announced in December it was paying a $15 an hour minimum wage for its farm workers starting Jan. 1. A week and a half later, the four-day strike followed when workers say a Wonderful Company labor contractor 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. 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 hired all the striking workers.
The strikers were aided by the UFW as they picketed the struck orchards and word of the walkouts spread in large part by workers using social media: https://www.facebook.com/unitedfarmworkers/