Farm workers at Santa Maria berry farm go on strike

May 4, 2022

By JOSH FRIEDMAN

Workers at J&G Berry Farms in Santa Maria who are demanding a pay increase are on strike. [KSBY]

The striking workers say they currently make $2.10 per box of strawberries. They are asking for a raise to $3.50 a box.

Farmworker Rosalina Sebastian said she has not received a pay increase while working for J&G Berry Farms over the past five years. The pay is not enough for food, and rent is expensive, and gas is going high, Sebastian said.

Some striking workers met with the owners of J&G Berry Farms on Tuesday. The company offered a five-cent pay increase, which the workers collectively rejected, they said.

The Mixteco Indigena Community Organizing Project and the Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy are both supporting the striking workers.


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Camus Redux

I find this article berry berry interesting.


Myself

Before getting to carried away, what type of box are we talking about, the little green basket, I doubt it, the clear plastic box, I see two different sizes of those, or are we talking about those bins in the picture, if its those larger boxes then there needs to be a raise in pay.


ravennest

Corporate greed keeps the pay low for these pickers. They deserve a raise. I’d pay more money for strawberries if I knew the workers received more pay for their labor.


Adam Trask

Strawberries are a half-billion dollar industry in the Santa Maria Valley. These workers deserve a raise.


unusualsuspect

“Now you would think, if any group of people would not wanna demonstrate what life would be

like without them, it would be”, berry pickers. Machines sure are a lot easier to deal with and would likely save time/money. Gooood luck lol.


Messkit

Raise the price of production, and the price at the store rises. Thus, putting the workers back into the same situation as before, with a caveat; Being more expensive at the store, fewer berries will be sold, which is less profit for the farm owner, which forces a reduction in either acres planted…


…or labor.


Adam Trask

Not raising wages means more people in poverty, more crime and more government spending. $3.50 a box does not seem outlandish considering the type of back-breaking labor required to pick strawberries. And, no, there is no machine that can replace workers. Their work can be made easier with machines, but the act of actually picking needs to be done by workers.


MrYan

Your logic is a bit flawed. The workers wage increase will raise the cost of berries only and not prices in general. Price(s) rise on their own separately from each other. Though for similar reasons.

These workers will benefit as a result. They will purchase more than berries in the marketplace with their raise.


Lastly why would a farmer plant less acre crops if, as you state, they are still making a profit?


Messkit

Factor in the much higher cost of fuel, to power the farm machinery. The shipping company’s trucks that used to need $500 in fuel, now spend $1200 for the same amount, and are charging the farmer greater prices for moving the berries to the warehouse. The cold storage warehouse, now charges much more to store the berries, because fuel and energy costs have rocketed up. The wholesaler must also increase his costs, due to the higher prices from the warehouse. When those berries finally get to the store that had to pay for all the extra cost to get them there, more has gone into them, starting with a 50% rise in labor cost per box. Now, the consumer has to wonder if buying the berries is worth not having enough for milk.


According to the USDA, the average net profit for American farmers, after 24/7 labor, and nearly 365 days of operation, is a whopping, staggering, unimaginable $91,500. People with a LOT less to do and worry about, make considerably more than that.


Remember, that profit ONLY happens when everything works right: weather, machinery, water wells, the local, state, and national economy…and labor.


MrYan

And if Berries become unprofitable they will move to another crop. Free markets find equilibrium.


nebitsunt

Sounds like a lofty request. I’d like a 30 + percent pay increase as well! I’ll just settle for my 3 percent cost of living increase. On another note- plenty of new workers on their way to California. Market will be flooded with new laborers. Wages will probably go down. Prices will go up- because inflation. C’mon man.


nebitsunt

For consideration-

“The wage-price spiral: Rising wages increase disposable income raising the demand for goods and causing prices to rise. Rising prices increase demand for higher wages, which leads to higher production costs and further upward pressure on prices creating a conceptual spiral”.

Theorizes possible tough times ahead.