Workers at Ace Tomato are tired of waiting. They are tired of dirty bathrooms, the lack of fresh water and decades of low pay. You might ask, why don't they vote for a union? They did—back in 1989! But, more than two decades later they still are waiting for their contract.
The UFW fought for and passed a law in California requiring employers to negotiate in good faith or face mandatory mediation. The way this works is a mediator speaks to both sides and neutrally sifts through both sides' documents and recommendations and at the end submits a report of terms to the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) which is essentially a contract. After several months of discussion, the mediator submitted his report to the ALRB on June 28. The company objected, but on July 25 the ALRB ruled against the company and ordered Ace Tomato to implement the final mediator's report as the contract. Instead Ace decided to follow their normal delaying tactics and ignored the Board order. Now the ALRB is saying, while the contract should be in effect, the Board has no basis at this time to seek enforcement.
The UFW is planning on following up through every avenue possible. But in the meantime we ask you to join us in helping the workers keep up the pressure. The first way you can help is sign a petition workers will deliver to the company on Tuesday.
The workers have sent the company a letter asking the company to meet with them. To date the company has ignored the letter. So next Tuesday the workers plan to go to the company directly. They will hold a demonstration in front of the company's Manteca headquarters where they will demand a meeting and hand in a petition signed by UFW supporters. They hope to convince Ace Tomato President, Kathleen Lagorio Janssen, to implement the mediator approved contract once and for all so farm workers can finally earn union wages. Jassen has benefitted directly from union representation as a teacher in the school system, so she certainly know why farm workers needs a union. Also, as the honored 2004 Stocktonian of the Year, she should want to be a positive role model to Stockton residents which include her employees and their families.
72 -year old Leonardo Gonzalez Manso is one of the worker leaders who voted for the UFW 23 years ago. He asked us to deliver this message to you: "Can you help us put pressure on Ace Tomato because the company doesn't want to sign our contract? We have been fighting for years. The Labor Board didn't want to help us back then, thought we were going to forget, but we haven't... Please sign our petition and tell the company to put our contract in place and meet with me and my fellow workers."
Please sign the petition today and tell the President of Ace Tomato, Kathleen Lagorio Janssen, to implement the mediator approved contract once and for all so farm workers can finally earn union wages.