Gargiulo workers vote to join union

07/12/2012 11:49:00 AM
Doug Ohlemeier

Upset about labor practices, Gargiulo Inc. workers in California have voted to join a union.

In a July 11 vote, workers for the Naples, Fla.-based tomato grower-shipper voted 186-40 to join the United Farm Workers of America.

The vote followed a July 9 work stoppage when workers at a Firebaugh, Calif., field in Fresno County walked off their jobs and accused Gargiulo of unfair labor practices. The workers then filed a petition to seeking a union election.

Mike Sullivan, Gargiulo’s president and chief executive officer, said the company didn’t engage in any discussions about employment terms with the union and only discussed the election process.

“There was no communication before the work stoppage, and we were not in talks,” Sullivan said. “There were no demands made that we didn’t meet. Gargiulo has always had an emphasis on the well-being of our employees. We believe they are among if not the highest paid in the industry.”

Sullivan said the two sides will likely discuss an employment contract after the state certifies the vote. He said the contract applies only to that California group of workers.

“This is a historic win,” Armando Elenes, the union’s vice president, said in a union news release. “The workers, through their vote, sent a clear message to the company that they want to be represented by the UFW.”

Last month, Tracy, Calif.-based tomato grower-shipper Pacific Triple E Ltd. and the union agreed on a three-year union contract for 800 workers.



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