Farm union pact doesn’t end debate

| Print |  Email
Archives - September 2007
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

Loose Talk

July/August 2015
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

When gossip crosses the line.


Read more...

Photo Log: Waterfront Blues Festival

The Latest
Thursday, July 09, 2015
bluesfestthumbBY JASON E. KAPLAN | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

The sweltering weather didn't keep the crowds away. Although the numbers were down slightly from last year, the Oregon Food Bank raised $850,636 to fight hunger.  About 80,000 people attended despite temperatures in the upper 90s.


Read more...

Farm in a Box

July/August 2015
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Most of the food Americans consume is trucked in from hundreds of miles away. Eric Wilson, co-founder and CEO of Gro-volution, wants to change that. So this past spring, the Air Force veteran and former greenhouse manager started work on an alternative farming system he claims is more efficient than conventional agriculture, and also shortens the distance between the consumer and the farm.


Read more...

Is there life beyond Reed?

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
BY GARY THILL | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

A storied institution climbs down from the ivory tower.


Read more...

Fueling Up for the Climb

July/August 2015
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY GREGG MORRIS

Rita Hansen aims to scale natural gas vehicle innovation.


Read more...

Up on the Roof

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

In 2010 Vanessa Keitges and several investors purchased Portland-based Columbia Green Technologies, a green-roof company. The 13-person firm has a 200% annual growth rate, exports 30% of its product to Canada and received its first infusion of venture capital in 2014 from Yaletown Venture Partners. CEO Keitges, 40, a Southern Oregon native who serves on President Obama’s Export Council, talks about market innovation, scaling small business and why Oregon is falling behind in green-roof construction. 


Read more...

Car be gone

Linda Baker
Thursday, August 06, 2015
070615car2goblogthumbBY LINDA BAKER

Car and ride sharing services have taken urban areas by storm. Low-income and suburban communities are left at the curb.


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