MANTECA, CA- Dozens of farm workers and community supporters gathered across from ACE Tomato company’s headquarters in Manteca on Tuesday, August 21st, to demanding the company to implement a fair contract.
“The process has been very difficult because they [ACE Tomato] have not cooperated in good faith,” said United Farm Workers (UFW) Internal Coordinator, Antonio Cortez. “The two parties sat down to negotiate but we did not reach an agreement, then we went to the next phase which is the mediation process.”
In 1989, the majority of ACE Tomato workers voted to have the United Farm Workers (UFW) represent them, 23 years later the workers still waiting for a fair contract.
In July 2012, the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) ordered ACE Tomato to put in place the agreement hammered out by a neutral mediator.
At the demonstration workers and union representatives hand in a petition signed by thousands of supporters askingPresident of Ace Tomato, Kathleen Lagorio Janssen, to implement the contract.
According to the ALRB, ACE Tomato filed a petition for review of the mediator’s report, urging that the Board reject the wage rates set by the mediator. However the Board issued a decision affirming the mediator’s report in full.
Founded in 1968, ACE Tomato Co. Inc. ships millions of cartons of tomatoes throughout North America and Asia each year.
72-year old, Leonardo Manso, who voted for the UFW representation two decades ago, has worked in the fields of the company for over 30 years, the reason why he is protesting today is in demand for better working conditions and better wages for future workers.
“About 600 workers will benefit from this agreement,” says Cortez.
Noe Gonzales has been with the company for 3 years and is one of the workers to benefit from the new contract.
“In a normal six hours day, we get paid to 1.08 per two buckets that weight about 25 pounds, I make around 70-80 buckets , which is $ 80 per day,” explains Gonzales.
Gonzales is consider one of the “fastest” workers on average and especially new workers only make 50 dollars a day.
Bilingual Weekly contacted the company for a rebuttal but as of Tuesday, August 28, 2012 at 2:45PM there hasnot been a response.