A few dozen year-round and seasonal workers belonging to Teamsters Union Local 890 protested outside San Benito Foods near downtown Hollister on Tuesday, demanding higher wages for all and benefits for seasonal workers. Union representative Jose Perez said negotiations are continuing with management, but the union is prepared to call for a strike as soon as Saturday.
“The company has straight out said that they don’t believe in seasonal benefits,” Perez claimed. “They don’t want to give a pay increase knowing that Hollister is a high-rent and high cost-of-living area. They barely pay minimum wage and it’s time that they pay better wages.”
He said San Benito Foods has been in Hollister for more than 50 years and long-time employees deserve better pay.
“We are close to going on strike,” Perez warned. “We’re continuing with negotiations tomorrow and Thursday, and depending on what they offer, we will vote on Saturday.”
Perez said nearly all of the 425 employees, except for management, are union members.
“There are about 350 seasonal and the rest are year-round employees,” he said.
Anna Jimenez, of the San Benito Foods' human resources department, said that because negotiations are ongoing, no one from the company could comment.
San Benito Foods has been processing tomatoes in Hollister since the 1920s and each season employs up to 500 seasonal workers.The last time there was a labor problem was in 2014 ,when workers demonstrated over negotiations.
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