UFW Vice President Armando Elenes said that the union has known about Gerawan Farming reducing its grape production for a year, yet the union has done nothing to help the workers prepare for that day.
“We’ve known for about a year now that they were going to be pulling out some vines, and we were concerned about that, but they said it was part of an ordinary rotation,” Elenes told the Fresno Bee.
The union wasn’t ready for Gerawan’s shutdown of its entire table grape production. “Now they’re telling us they’re pulling out all of the (table grape) vines,” said Elenes. “It’s Gerawan’s decision to make, but we’re not sure what prompted this decision.”
More than 2400 workers whom the UFW says it represents will be affected. The workers voted in 2013 on whether to de-certify the UFW, which has done nothing for Gerawan Workers yet seeks 3 percent of their income. The California Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) has refused to count the workers’ ballots because it was clear that the workers wanted to get rid of the UFW.
According to its official budget figures, the UFW does not even have a strike funds for its workers.
Gerawan says that many of the affected workers will still have their jobs working in the stone fruit (peaches, plums, nectarines) sector, but the Bee reports that the workers will lose about two months’ wages from the grape season.
Even so, the UFW has no fund to cushion the blow.
The union’s failure to prepare the Gerawan Workers for lost income from the grape operations is sure to cause controversy, showing that the UFW has failed once again to help farmworkers. Without a union contract, Gerawan pays its farmworkers the highest wages in the industry, from $11 to $20 an hour or more, far above the regional $9 hourly average.