The same week a federal judge denied a request from Gerawan Farming Inc. to dismiss a class action suit regarding labor issues, farm workers planned to take their case to individual Wal-Mart store managers, asking them to hold the grower to the retailer’ corporate standards for suppliers.
Farm workers were scheduled to protest at Wal-Mart stores across the country on May 22, according to a news release from the United Farm Workers of America union.
A Wal-Mart spokesman said May 23 that the company did not have a comment regarding the UFW’s protests. The farm workers contend Gerawan does not comply with Wal-Mart’s supplier standard requiring compliance with labor laws.
Two days before their planned campaign to seek Wal-Mart’s support for their cause, farm workers won a preliminary round against the family-owned grower in California when U.S. District Judge Anthony Ishii denied Gerawan’s motion to dismiss a class action lawsuit.
That lawsuit, filed in February, raises similar issues that California’s Agricultural Labor Relations Board is alleging against Gerawan Farming, Fresno, Calif., including pay rates, rest breaks and other working conditions.
Dan Gerawan, owner of the business founded by his father in 1938, has consistently denied violating any laws or regulations and contends workers at his operations do not want to be part of the union. The company’s website — www.prima.com — includes numerous employee testimonials about how Gerawan has helped them individually and as a group.
The UFW news release said the workers targeted Wal-Mart for their May 23 protest because the retailer is “one of the largest buyers of Prima-brand plums, peaches, nectarines and grapes produced by Gerawan.”
Note on clarification: The original version of this story reported that the workers who are pursuing a federal class action against Gerawan Farming are raising the same issues as have been raised by the ALRB. The issues are not identical, but are similar.