Farmworkers protest wage reduction at Kern citrus grove

    Agriculture workers at The Wonderful Company protest reduced wages Friday, Jan. 11, 2019, north of Bakersfield, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX photo)

    BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) – Farmworkers on Friday walked off the job at a citrus grove north of Bakersfield.

    Armando Elenes, an executive with the United Farm Workers, said The Wonderful Company announced a pay cut.

    “The workers are very upset about the fact that the company, without any notice, they showed up to work this morning and they reduced their bin rate by $5 on average,” he said.

    The Wonderful Company recently announced that it was raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour for full-time employees.

    But, Elenes said these workers are paid per bin of fruit they pick, and a worker might average a couple bins filled per day.

    He also said workers complain of unpaid sick hours and a lack of proper equipment.

    Elenes said the UFW is supporting the workers but didn’t act in an official organizing capacity. He called it “worker-driven action.”

    The Wonderful Company issued a statement:

    “We are disappointed that some of our third-party labor contractors decided to protest at one of our fields. Seasonally, this is the time of year when we transition from harvesting clementines to mandarins. This season due to the smaller size of the clementines, we paid a premium for harvesting and we’re back to paying regular wages for mandarins. We are confident we will quickly resolve this matter.”

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