In Tracy, California 900 Taylor Farms workers have been organizing a union since September 2013. They have been met with repeated violations of their rights and inhumane treatment.
VIOLATION OF FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION
Thirteen workers have been fired in retaliation for union activities and other union supporters have been targeted by the company. Immigrant workers have been threatened with deportation and the company hired union avoidance consultants to run a vicious brainwashing campaign. The company organized a goon squad of supervisors to harass and intimidate workers on election day while armed security guards were posted in full view of workers. Evidence of voting fraud by the company has been reported and over a hundred Unfair Labor Practice charges are pending against the company.
BLATANT DISCRIMINATION AND HARASSMENT
Latino and immigrant workers have been the target of repeated, deliberate, and grossly regressive abuse. A high-level manager used the dehumanizing slur “burro” toward Mexican-American workers supporting the union. A racist anti-union flier depicting a donkey dressed as an impoverished Mexican farmworker was posted and the company refused to take it down. Chants of “No se puede” are led by the plant manager in a perverse twist of Cesar Chavez’s empowering “Si se puede” motto. Meanwhile, monolingual Spanish speakers are forced to sign disciplinary write-ups in English, which they can’t read.
Disabled, injured, and sick workers suffer inhumane, illegal treatment. Employees have been terminated for reporting workplace injuries and seeking time off, so injured workers continue working and report to work with illnesses to avoid punishment. When workers have tried to get workers’ compensation, employers at the plants deny being the employer of record for the injured worker. The company harasses workers who file for workers’ compensation and denies them adequate treatment. The company fails to grant injured and disabled employees reasonable accommodations and modified duty.
POVERTY PAY AND MISERABLE CONDITIONS
Most workers are forced to survive on minimum wage, consigning them to poverty despite the fact that Taylor Farms made $1.8 billion in profit in 2012. Workers have even been forced to live in their cars because they cannot make their rent. Health insurance is too expensive. One worker is a single mother with four children who earns $9/hour and pays $80 a week for insurance. While workers are treated with contempt by supervisors, they toil endless hours and don’t know how long they will be required to work on a given day, which could be anywhere from 10 to 16 hours.
DANGEROUS WORK ENVIRONMENT
Workplace hazards at the facility persist alongside high rates of injury. Temperatures inside range between 32 and 38 degrees, yet the company fails to provide warming rooms mandated by California law. Workers are not provided with basic protective gear, including gloves for cutting and insulated clothing for cold temperatures. Instead, workers must pay for this equipment out of their own pockets. Wet floors result in repeated falls and severe musculoskeletal injury, and fumes from the chemicals have led to illness among workers.