Nov. 1, 2005 – A year-long campaign to organize nut-farm workers at the Sacramento, California-based Blue Diamond Growers is escalating. Employees recently filed charges of unfair labor practices against the company, and the union sent people out over the weekend to inform patrons and employees of businesses that deal with Blue Diamond about the growerâ€™s aggressive anti-union actions.
Topping the list of complaints from workers is the firing of four pro-union workers, according to the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), which has been trying to help Blue Diamond employees unionize since September 2004. In addition, the union charges, management has threatened and harassed workers involved in the organizing drive, even going so far as to warn that the plant would close if workers approved ILWU representation.
Last week, the National Labor Relations Board certified an ILWU complaint over 28 separate alleged labor-law violations by the company. A hearing is scheduled for December 5. According to the Sacramento Business Journal, the certification came after the company refused to honor a request by the regional NLRB office to correct the alleged violations by reinstating the fired employees with back pay and posting a worksite statement promising not to engage in similar actions in the future.
Other unions and workersâ€™ rights groups have come out in support of the Blue Diamond employees. American Rights at Work, a worker-advocacy group linked to organized labor, is encouraging people to contact Blue Diamond CEO Doug Youngdahl and demand that the fired workers be reinstated.
Union members in eight cities were expected to participate in the "Halloween Howl for Justice," a consumer-education and action campaign organized by the ILWU, according to the AFL-CIO.
The union has also received the support of seven of the eight Sacramento City Council members this summer, according to an ILWU statement.
Blue Diamond employs around 700 people in and around Sacramento, many of them unskilled immigrants. According to the ILWU, "the largest group of workers at Blue Diamond has seen less than $3/hour in raises over the last 15 years."