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Gallo of Sonoma Refuses to Give Workers Health, Other Benefits

The United Farm Workers (UFW) will sit down with Gallo of Sonoma tomorrow for the latest in a series of contract negotiation meetings. The labor union and the wine company have been in negotiations since March of 2003, and the UFW contract expired in November 2003. At stake are health and other benefits for the labor contractor workers employed by Gallo, who constitute 75 percent of Gallo’s workforce. Workers employed directly by Gallo enjoy complete family medical, dental, and vision benefits, and paid vacation and holidays, according to UFW. Since negotiations began, Gallo has stooped to attempting to oust UFW, which a state judge in California ruled was illegal in December 2003. Gallo has also tried to convince labor contractors that the company had offered to extend health and vacation benefits to labor contractors and UFW refused, which the UFW calls a “flat-out lie.” And in January 2004, the UFW filed charges alleging Gallo of Sonoma fired a key farm worker witness who testified against the company. The UFW launched a “Gallo Unfair” campaign website yesterday to mobilize supporters. The union has already collected and presented to Gallo over 25,000 signatures in favor of a fair contract. “We’re preparing to escalate the campaign to do whatever it takes,” union President Arturo Rodriguez told the Los Angeles Times. This includes potentially launching a boycott of Gallo wine. Previous boycotts of Gallo wine in the 1970s, led by Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez, co-founders of UFW, were instrumental in the enactment of the Agricultural Labor Relations Act, which granted farm workers the right to collectively organize and bargain for better wages and working conditions. Huerta, a board member of the Feminist Majority Foundation and Ms. magazine, was selected as a Ms. Woman of the Year in 1998. TAKE ACTION Sign the online petition urging Gallo to agree to a fair contract with the United Farm Workers JOIN the Ms. community and receive a year of the premier feminist magazine

Sources:

UFW; LA Times 8/3/04

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