Labor shortage alleged in shutdown of Ohio tomato shed - The Packer

Labor shortage alleged in shutdown of Ohio tomato shed

06/21/2013 02:59:00 PM
Andy Nelson

A major Ohio tomato grower-shipper will not pack in its Ohio shed this summer because of a labor shortage.

Oak Harbor-based Charles Jones Produce LLC will focus on its South Carolina operation this summer instead, said Baldemar Velasquez, president of the Toledo, Ohio, office of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, which has represented workers who have worked in the company’s shed and fields.

Jones Produce grows about 1,000 acres of tomatoes in northwest Ohio and employs about 300 workers in its shed and 100-200 people as field laborers each summer, Velasquez said.

Charles Jones, Jones Produce’s owner, contacted Velasquez and informed him that because of a labor shortage, the company would not be packing tomatoes in its Oak Harbor facility this year.

The reason for the shortage, Velasquez said, is the new U.S. Customs and Border Protection Sandusky Bay Station in Sandusky, Ohio, which he said has frightened many Hispanic laborers away.

Charles Jones Produce did not return calls for comment.

“There are more than 100 officers in Sandusky, and it’s put a big chill in northern Ohio,” Velasquez said.

The Farm Labor Organizing Committee has a lawsuit pending against CBP because of what the organization considers profiling by officers.

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Raleigh NC  |  June, 24, 2013 at 02:19 PM

The reader can only surmise that the laborers were frightened away by the US Customs and Border Patrol station because the laborers were in this country illegally. That being the case, was the employer not aware prior to the opening of the station that they were operating outside the law? How did the employer end up filling their labor needs with so many illegals that they have to close up shop when the illegals flee? What is the cost in real dollars to the Charles Jones Produce Company to shut down the Ohio operation and idle its facility? And whatever that cost is, if that amount were to be devoted to increasing the hourly wage Jones Produce paid to its workers, could they have attracted some legal American workers? With the unemployment levels as high as they are, could Jones Produce not have worked in cooperation with the local unemployment office in their area to offer the unemployed legitimate work for wages as opposed to handouts? With the US Senate poised to vote today on a bill that might grant amnesty to as many as 20 million illegal immigrants, I wonder if employers that attract so many illegal workers will have jobs for those newly legitimized millions ... or whether they will continue to put out the welcome mat for the NEXT wave of illegal immigrants.

Guy Hutchins    
SC/NC state line  |  July, 16, 2013 at 04:01 PM

Charles is my neighbor... Don't worry about his entire operation. He'll probably be back. He has thousands of acres of tomatoes in both North and South Carolina this year. Meanwhile I guess Ohio will be getting NC/SC produce..... Guy, Mooresboro, NC

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