Agriculture

Union rejects contract with San Benito Foods, strike still possible

After Teamsters' vote rejecting contract offer, union rep says issue has reached "critical juncture"

Following a May 16 union protest against San Benito Foods by about a dozen year-round and seasonal members of Teamsters Union Local 890 demanding higher wages for full-time employees and benefits for seasonal workers, the union on May 24 overwhelmingly rejected the contract being offered.

One hundred twenty-four union members voted, with 14 in favor and 107 against, according to union representative Jose Perez. Currently, approximately 425 San Benito Foods’ employees are members of the union.

“We have reached a critical juncture,” Perez told BenitoLink via email on May 25. “The Local has contacted the IBT (International Brotherhood of Teamsters), Joint Council 7, and the Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service and we are awaiting their response.”

Perez stated that it is in no one’s best interest to go on strike.

“We do seek to reach an agreement, but we are here to represent the best interest of our members,” he commented in the email. “As you know, living in San Benito County is expensive. The cost of living is high. Over the years, our members have been losing benefits and their wages continue to be below the county median.”

Perez said that there comes a time when people reach their tipping point and are willing to fight for what is fair.

“For now, we are moving forward and following procedures,” he said.

San Benito Foods did not respond to a request for comment prior to publication.

John Chadwell

John Chadwell is a freelance photojournalist with additional experience as a copywriter, ghostwriter, scriptwriter, and novelist. He is a former U.S. Navy Combat Photojournalist and is an award-winning writer, having worked for magazine, newspapers, radio and television. He has a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications from Chapman University and graduate studies at USC Cinema School. John worked as a scriptwriting consultant, and his own script, "God's Club," was produced and released in 2016. He has also written eight novels, ranging from science fiction to true crime, which are sold on Amazon. To contact John Chadwell, send an email to: [email protected]