Teamsters: Abuses at World's Largest Salad Processing Company Illustrate Need for Temp Worker Legislation in California

Teamsters: Abuses at World's Largest Salad Processing Company Illustrate Need
                  for Temp Worker Legislation in California

State Senate Labor Committee Approves Legislation to Hold Companies
Accountable for Labor Suppliers' Violations

PR Newswire

SACRAMENTO, Calif., June 12, 2014

SACRAMENTO, Calif., June 12, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Senate Labor
Committee yesterday approved AB 1897, a bill already approved by the Assembly
that would hold companies accountable for serious violations of the rights of
workers on their premises that are committed by their own labor suppliers.

International Brotherhood Of Teamsters.

Like similar legislation that is already law in Illinois, the bill would
address a rapidly spreading corporate shell game in which companies claim that
the men and women who do their work are not really employees but "temporary"
workers for labor contractors or agencies. This scam allows corporations to
deny responsibility for compliance with basic worker rights standards
involving pay, benefits, and working conditions. The bill is authored by
Assemblymember Roger Hernandez and co-sponsored by the California Labor
Federation.

"This shell game is a significant contributor to the crisis in our economy
today," said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa. "More and more people are
working harder with less to show for it. Their low wages, unhealthy working
conditions, and lack of benefits subsidize the greatest wealth at the top in
the history of the world. Holding corporations accountable for violations of
basic worker rights on their premises would be an important step in the right
direction."

Hoffa was joined today by workers from Taylor Farms, a California company
where abuses of worker rights dramatize the need for the new law.

Taylor Farms is the world's largest salad processor, supplying to McDonalds,
KFC, Pizza Hut, Dominos, Subway, Darden Restaurants (Olive Garden and Red
Lobster), and many other restaurant and food chains. At its processing plant
in Tracy, a majority of the people who do the work actually are employed by
two temporary staffing agencies and not by Taylor Farms. One of these
agencies, known as Slingshot, has its office on the company's premises, and
Taylor is its only customer.

"I have been a temp worker for the last ten years, ever since I received my
first paycheck," said Jose Gonzalez, who works at Taylor Farms, but is
employed by a labor contractor called Slingshot. "To me this is hurtful. I am
being robbed of the fruits of my labor every hour I work. Why not pay me the
money going to the temporary agency for my labor? As a temp worker I have no
health care, sick or vacation pay or retirement security. I have no future.
It's like I'm a modern-day slave."

While its workers generated $1.8 billion in revenue for the company in 2012 --
4 ½ times the company's revenue just seven years before -- Taylor claims that
it has no responsibility for how its "temporary" workers are treated:

  oMany workers are paid a minimum wage of $8 an hour with no benefits and no
    guarantee that they will have a job the next day. Many have reported wage
    theft and there is currently a wage theft lawsuit pending against the
    company.
  oWorkers have been fired once they become injured or ill; as a result,
    others fear reporting injuries.
  oThey may be denied days off to care for a sick child or family member.
  oThey face ethnic discrimination, sexual harassment, and discrimination
    based on sexual orientation.
  oWorkers are confronted by dangerous working conditions every day. Some
    work in rooms with temperatures as low as 34 degrees. Taylor Farms fails
    to provide workers with protective gear to shield them from fumes that
    cause dizziness and gagging. Workers often have to provide their own
    safety equipment like gloves and warm clothes. Workers have been ordered
    to remove bio-hazards without protective gear.
  oWorkers are denied breaks to use the bathroom.

"Currently, there's no law to stop corporations from playing a shell game that
exploits low-wage workers and their families. With AB 1897, that's going to
change," said California Labor Federation executive secretary-treasurer Art
Pulaski. "This bill ensures unscrupulous companies are held accountable for
violations of workers' rights committed by their labor contractors. It's the
right thing to do, and a fair way to do it."

Fed up with the low pay, dangerous working conditions, and a lack of
opportunity, 900 workers at Taylor Farms, many of them Latino immigrants, have
joined together to form a union. The workers in Tracy know the benefits a
union can bring because Taylor Farms workers at a facility in nearby Salinas,
Calif. have been members of the Teamsters Union for 17 years.

While the work is similar, pay and working conditions are much better in
Salinas. The 2,500 workers in Salinas earn an average of $2.50 an hour more
than in Tracy. They also have access to good healthcare, a 401(k) plan, paid
vacation, and paid sick days.

Besides trying to form a union, Taylor Farms workers in Tracy have filed
complaints with Cal/OSHA, and the state Labor Commissioner is investigating
working conditions and wage theft at their facility.

There is also an ongoing lawsuit in federal court over the failure to pay
wages for all hours worked at the plant.

"Food processing workers are joining fast food, Walmart, car wash and
warehouse workers in standing up for themselves," Hoffa said. "They are
standing up for an America where people who work can support themselves and
raise a family."

Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4
million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and
Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter
@Teamsters and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.

Logo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20100127/IBTLOGO

SOURCE International Brotherhood of Teamsters

Website: http://www.teamster.org
Contact: Elizabeth Brennan, (213) 999-2164, Elizabeth.Brennan@berlinrosen.com;
Olamide Noah, (310) 701-8476, Olamide.Noah@berlinrosen.com
 
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