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$30,000 unfair labor settlement to be distributed in checks to more than 200 Santa Maria farmworkers

Posted at 11:41 PM, Feb 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-24 20:28:28-05

The California Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) announced Saturday that 212 farmworkers will receive checks because of an informal settlement agreement with Rancho Laguna Farms.

In total, workers will receive nearly $30,000 that the ALRB will distribute on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Central Coast United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE) Office located at 120 E. Jones Street, Santa Maria, CA.

On May 4th, 2020, CAUSE filed an unfair labor practice charge with the ALRB on behalf of workers at Rancho Laguna.

The charge alleges that Rancho Laguna unlawfully fired workers after they engaged in a work stoppage seeking to increase their wages.

The charge also alleged that Rancho Laguna threatened to call immigration officials and called law enforcement out to the fields to retaliate against the workers which group leaders say interfered with their right to come together to seek improved working conditions.

The settlement agreement requires Rancho Laguna to compensate impacted workers for potential economic losses as a result of the alleged retaliation.

Farm administrators said some workers expressed contentment of pay at the time even though weather events affected the size, quantity, and quality of the fruit.

According to Rancho Laguna, this is what caused some employees to ask for a 10 cent per tray raise to compensate for the reduction in hours worked due to a slower production period.

In a statement, Rancho Laguna said in part:

Driscoll’s has notified me of the complaints addressed to them by CAUSE on behalf of some of our employees regarding respect, safety, and wages. We have taken these concerns very seriously and are actively working to address these issues. I have personally met with the majority of our workers. Together we are addressing and resolving employee issues and concerns. My company fundamental principles are of paramount importance to me and I personally will be addressing issues of respect with everyone to ensure that our employees feel confident in bringing their concerns forward to the company without fear of reprisal.
Rancho Laguna Farms

Rancho Laguna owners also said that they will provide training to their supervisors, foremen and managers to help them improve leadership skills.

Rancho Laguna also agreed to provide their current agricultural employees with information about the settlement and information about their rights under the Agricultural Labor Relations Act.

CLICK HERE for Rancho Laguna's full statement on the settlement.

The ALRB enforces California’s Agricultural Labor Relations Act.