Farm union pact doesn’t end debate

| Print |  Email
Saturday, September 01, 2007

DairyCows.jpg BOARDMAN Oregon’s largest dairy farm has struck a collective-bargaining deal with United Farm Workers, marking the state’s first large-scale farm unionization. The three-year agreement for the 250 dairy workers at Threemile Canyon Farms includes a 7.5% salary increase over three years, family medical benefits, a pension plan and double the previous vacation time, according to Erik Nicholson, director of the guest worker program at UFW.

Tim Bernasek of the Oregon Farm Bureau says the Threemile deal raises more questions than answers for Oregon’s 150,000 agriculture workers. “It doesn’t get at the central issue,” says Bernasek.

Like most states, Oregon has no regulations governing the process of unionizing farms. The agreement marks a historic deal — but for Threemile only, according to Len Bergstein, spokesman for the farm, which is in Boardman and produces 160,000 gallons of milk every day. “Nothing has been solved for the rest of agriculture.”

Threemile and UFW arrived at the deal in mid-July after weathering four years of negotiations. UFW began unionizing efforts in 2003 when dairy workers cited poor working conditions and low pay.

During negotiations, UFW went to some of Threemile’s clients including the Tillamook County Creamery Association, which buys two-thirds of Threemile’s milk, urging them to help grease the negotiation process.

The farm bureau’s Bernasek claims the UFW went a “backwards” route by approaching the farm’s customers rather than “winning the hearts and minds of the workers” to gain union recognition and settle a collective-bargaining agreement.

A system without rules stating the rights of farm workers or union protocol for organizing farms is “ripe for intimidation,” Bergstein says. “We’re in the wild, wild West.”  

EUNICE LEE

Have an opinion? E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

More Articles

Labor Pains

February 2015
Monday, January 26, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

Thinking about starting an internship program? Be careful. Navigating unpaid internships can be tricky.


Read more...

7 industry trends of 2015

The Latest
Friday, January 09, 2015
covertrends15-thumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Industry groups identify top trends for 2015.


Read more...

Money Talks

March 2015
Saturday, February 21, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Will community banks survive the digital age? Three CEOs peer into banking's crystal ball.


Read more...

A legislative preview — and celebration

Linda Baker
Friday, January 23, 2015
012315-speaker-thumbBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

The Northwest Environmental Business Council previews the 2015 legislative agenda as Hatch Oregon celebrates Oregon's new community crowdfunding rules.


Read more...

Imperial Palate

February 2015
Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Power Lunch at the Imperial.


Read more...

VIDEO: The 2015 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon

The Latest
Friday, February 27, 2015

videothumbVIDEO: 2015 100 Best Companies to work for in Oregon


Read more...

Where do Portland demographics rank among the largest 50 cities in the US?

The Latest
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
thumbpdxinperspectiveBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

The Portland in Perspective study, done by the City Budget Office, was released Tuesday.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS