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UPDATE: Driscoll's Berries responds to farmworker petition addressing workers' rights

Posted at 1:51 PM, Jun 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-09 21:20:42-04

UPDATE (5:35 P.M.) - In a statement, Driscoll's Berries said the company is aware of the issue developing in Santa Maria between Rancho Laguna Farms and its farmworkers.

Driscoll's said it is in contact with the grower, the farmworkers, the advocacy group CAUSE and local government to understand the issue.

Rancho Laguna Farms also released a statement addressing their actions and the workers' demands.

The statement reads 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."

The farm's full statement is available to download on the Driscoll's website.

Santa Maria farmworkers plan to send a petition to Driscoll's Berries Tuesday night at 6 p.m. asking that the company insist its local supplier Rancho Laguna Farms respond to worker demands.

The petition has more than 57,000 signatures. It demands Rancho Laguna Farms give employees a .25 cent pay increase per box, improve safety standards and end retaliation towards workers who speak out.

Farmworker advocates say this is in response to inaction by Rancho Laguna Farms after workers brought a previous petition to the employer on May 28. That petition had 75 worker signatures.

Farmworker advocates say Driscoll's staff refused to receive the previous petition and instead called police to remove the farmworkers from the property.

Workers then launched an online petition to gather more signatures.

This petition is the latest action in more than a month after workers began organizing on May 4.