As if a guilty party to a crime, the UFW remains silent as hundreds of its workers lose berry farming jobs across California.
“More than 400 berry workers have been laid off in Northern California as the industry struggles with labor and other cost issues,” the Los Angeles Times reported on January 4.
Pick Justice has been the only farmworker group advocating for the doomed UFW members. Their union didn’t lift a finger for them.
“Dole Food Co., which has been backing out of its strawberry operations in Ventura and Santa Cruz counties, will lay off another 140 raspberry workers as of Jan. 16, while Cal Pacific Specialty Foods laid off an estimated 323 workers in late November, after selling its berry processing facilities in nearby Monterey County,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
“Last year, Dole laid off 402 workers at its Watsonville facility and another 172 workers in the Oxnard area. All were represented by the United Farm Workers union,” the LA Times said.
Pick Justice has taken the UFW to task for months for ignoring the plight of its own members. The UFW has said nothing about those endangered workers on its @UFWupdates Twitter feed or any other outlet that we could find.
“Look at @UFWupdates own tweets – the UFW says nothing while hundreds of its own dues-paying members lose their jobs in the California berry industry. The UFW simply doesn’t care about the workers any more,” we said January 10.
Some of our other tweets:
- September 1, 2017: “In case you missed it: Dole informed #UFW
#UFWthat it was slashing UFW jobs. UFW says nothing as we approach Labor Day. Was UFW paid off again?”
- September 6, 2017: “Pick Justice stands up for 172 #UFW
#UFWstrawberry workers losing their jobs at Dole. Because UFW won’t.”
- September 15, 2017: “UFW wants help for Florida farmworkers, who aren’t union members, but won’t help 172 California #UFW
#UFWmembers who are losing jobs at Dole.”
- September 18, 2017: “Indiana, Florida, Haiti, and Jamaica – #UFW speaks up for everyone except its own members like the Dole workers near Oxnard.”
- September 22, 2017: “Dole laying off 400 more berry workers. 172 are
#UFW members. @UFWupdates says NOTHING. Did UFW get paid off?”
- September 25, 2017: “Meanwhile, 172 of my brothers & sisters who work Dole’s strawberry fields here in Oxnard are losing their jobs. @UFWupdates is silent.”
- October 10, 2017: “United Farm Workers drives #Dole
#Doleout of southern California. UFW harms workers and farmers.”
- November 27, 1917: As UFW was crowing about what it does for its members, we tweeted, “”That’s not what 160+ members are saying at Dole’s now-disappeared strawberry farm. They lost their jobs last month, and UFW didn’t lift a finger for them. @PickJustice was their only voice.”
UFW vote cost 647 Klein Berry Farm workers their jobs
Like locusts, the UFW laid waste to the Klein Berry Farm in McFarland last spring. Only 347 of Klein’s 627 eligible workers voted to join the UFW – one of the very few cases in which workers actually wanted to join the dying union – but they formed a majority of workers who actually cast a ballot.
The average Klein worker made $17.00 an hour, with entry-level work at $13.00 – well above UFW-negotiated minimum wages at other farms. With blueberry prices falling, Klein had to cut wages, prompting a UFW-backed strike that drove the farm out of business and the workers out of jobs.
Other berry workers have created their own unions
The UFW has been so negligent toward its dues-paying members that berry workers wanting a union decided to set up their own.
Workers at Sakuma Bros. in Washington state, who cultivate and harvest berries for the Driscoll’s giant, formed Familias Unidas por la Justicia (FUJ), rather than join the UFW. Even though Pick Justice members do not want union representation for themselves, they recognize that other workers do. Last year Pick Justice welcomed FUJ as an alternative union to the UFW.