500+ Sun Maid workers on strike in Fresno

After rejecting four contract offers from Sun-Maid, nearly 500 members of Local 431 took to the hot Fresno streets on September 10 to start a work stoppage that will last until they get a contract that they can live with.

“The major issue is that the company insists that our folks contribute to their health plan for the first time ever,” says Principal Officer Peter Núñez. “They offered minimal wage increases to offset some of the out-of-pocket health costs. It’s a high-deductible health plan, which is barely worth it to have, moreover to have to pay into.”

The company hasn’t brought in strikebreakers yet, “but it’s raisin season,” Núñez says. “This is the worst time for a strike.” Sun Maid has two  non-union facilities nearby with 80 workers, and they have 40 supervisors. “But this is a 500-person plant. They’d have to bring in lots of scabs to keep up production.”

Núñes says he’s been contacted by the mediator to see if it’s worth coming back to the bargaining table. “I said that the company knows what we want and need. We’ve said it every time we come to the table and have been rejected. Nothing short of a proposal that does not include contributing to the health plan is what our folks will agree to.”

For on-going information about the strike and pictures of the dedicated Teamster strikers, check out the Local’s Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/Teamsterslocal431