Wages aren’t the only issue, though. Tomato pickers are not direct employees of Ace Tomato, Carrol said, but paid by labor contractors who did not participate in negotiations.
“This is the first case that’s going to raise that particular issue,” he said. “How in the world can they be forced to pay a certain price per bucket for fresh green or roma tomatoes when they didn’t negotiate any of these terms? They’re the real parties of interest.”
Transplanting crews are also affected by the mediated contract that went into effect July 1; their pay is retroactive to April 1.
United Farm Workers and Ace Tomato have a history of interactions dating back to a 1989 union vote. Each side has accused the other of delay in one matter or another.
Immokalee, Fla.-based Lipman announced in July that it is acquiring Ace Tomato, and plans to integrate the packinghouse into its national operations after the end of this year’s growing season.