Caruthers Farm Workers Lose Their Jobs
CARUTHERS, Calif. (KFSN) -- About 60 Valley farm workers lost their jobs, just days before Thanksgiving. Many had been working for the Caruthers grape grower for years, and it appears they made far less than minimum wage. When they recently got a decrease in pay, they complained and say they were told to work, or get out.
These workers say the holidays will be tough on their families this year. The farm workers claim they were fired from H&R Gunland Ranches in Caruthers after complaining about a decrease in pay.
The workers had been getting paid 26-cents for every vine they pruned and tied; the piece rate was recently cut to 20-cents.
"They knew there were not going to make minimum wage at that rate of pay, so what they did was to stop working to demand a higher rate of pay, a fair rate of pay to be able to put food on the table of their families," said Attorney Silas Shawver with the California Rural Legal Assistance.
California Rural Legal Assistance (C.R.L.A.) has filed a complaint on behalf of the workers with the Agricultural Labor Relations Board for unfair labor practices and are investigating whether the employees were also illegally fired.
"They are receiving far below the minimum wage we've requested all the employee records from the company in order to go back and try to calculate how much these workers are owed," said Shawver.
Regino Primitivo said he didn't want this happening to other people. He received his last paycheck on Tuesday.
His net earnings for one week were $70. He said he worked approximately 54 hours, which breaks down to less than $1.50 an hour.
His niece Erica and both her parents also worked for H&R Gunland, and now the entire family is out of a job. "It's hard for us because we don't have a job right now, and probably we want find a job very soon."
And losing their jobs these workers say, could not have come at a worse time.
Action News tried to contact the owners of H&R Gunland Ranches today-- and as of this hour, we've not heard back from the company.
C.R.L.A. is seeking legal wages for the workers, as well as back pay and that the workers get their jobs back. It's a process that attorneys say could take months or even years.
caruthers, fresno county, agriculture, legal proceeding, local, graciela moreno
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