Santa Maria farmworkers receive nearly $30,000 settlement

By JOSH FRIEDMAN

More than 200 Santa Maria farmworkers received settlement checks on Sunday after obtaining a $30,000 settlement from a farming company that allegedly retaliated against the workers for organizing in attempt to get better pay. [KCOY]

On May 4, 2020, Central Coast United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE) filed an unfair labor practice charge with the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) on behalf of workers at Rancho Laguna Farms in Santa Maria. 

The complaint alleged Rancho Laguna Farms unlawfully fired workers after they temporarily stopped work in an attempt to increase their wages. The complaint also alleged Rancho Laguna Farms called law enforcement out to the field and threatened to call immigration officials in order to retaliate against the participants in the work stoppage.

Doing so interfered with the workers’ rights to come together to seek improved working conditions, the complaint stated. Workers’ rights to freedom of association, self-organization and designating representatives to negotiate the terms of their employment are protected under California’s Agricultural Labor Relations Act.

Under the settlement agreement, Rancho Laguna Farms must compensate workers for any potential losses resulting from the alleged retaliation. 

Likewise, the farming company agreed to provide its current employees with information about the settlement and about their rights under the Agricultural Labor Relations Act. Additionally, Rancho Laguna Farms agreed to allow the ALRB to provide training to its supervisors on farmworkers’ rights under the act. 

ALRB handed out checks to 212 farmworkers at the CAUSE office in Santa Maria on Sunday.

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