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February 24, 2020
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Workers walk off job, citing company inaction

(Harvesters from Premiere Raspberries LLC in Watsonville stage a noisy protest Wednesday on Riverside Road outside of the Well-Pict factory. Photo by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian)

WATSONVILLE — More than 100 raspberry harvesters walked off the job Wednesday, protesting what they called unfair labor practices by Watsonville-based Premiere Raspberries LLC.

The company sells berries under the name Well-Pict.

Wearing red and waving the red banners of the United Farm Workers union that represents them, the workers lined up along Riverside Road at about 12 p.m.

According to UFW organizer Roman Pinal, the company still has not honored a contract approved in December by the unionized workers, despite being ordered to do so on Aug. 29 by the Agricultural Labor Relations Board.

The company has not released a statement, nor has it told workers why they have not yet honored the contract, Pinal said.

“Their inaction is very obvious to the workers,” he said. “Every day that goes by is a day without a wage increase.”

Under the contract, the company must give its workers 15 percent pay raises, in addition to increases to health and pension, and other benefits.

It also includes eight paid holidays a year and three paid days for funeral leave, paid vacations and 25 cents per hour contributions to the union pension plan.

It also calls for overtime pay after and eight-hour workday.

Premiere was also ordered to pay its approximately 550 workers the difference between the wages and benefits they did receive and what they would have earned under their UFW contract.

The contract was approved last year by a state mediator after protracted negotiations. The ALRB ordered the company to honor it on Aug.  29.

Premiere appealed that decision on Sept. 24, and the case is pending in the 6th District Court of Appeal in Santa Clara.

A representative at Premiere Raspberries referred media calls to attorney Ana Pulido. Pulido did not return a call seeking comment.

Companies typically do not comment on pending litigation.


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