Workers from Spreckels Sugar Company go on strike
BRAWLEY, Calif. (KYMA, KECY) - Workers at Spreckels Sugar Company in Brawley are on strike as employees are claiming the company made multiple unfair labor practices.
There were around 200 workers protesting with signs that said "unfair labor practice employees on strike."
The President of United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 135 (UFCW) says workers and Spreckels Sugar negotiated a retirement plan.
But then the retirement plan changed without the workers' knowledge.
“Their retirement is affecting these people between ten and fifty thousand dollars a piece we tried to bargain with the company for months... the strike is over an unfair labor practice... because they refuse to bargain in good faith," said UFCW Local 135 Todd Walters.
The workers tell us they will continue to strike until the company talks to them.
We reached out to Spreckels Sugar Company about the strike and negotiations and provided us with this statement:
“We have great sympathy for our team members who have done nothing wrong. Even so, this is not a situation of our making and the union that represents our colleagues knows this. During our 2021 negotiations, all parties – including the union’s negotiators – acknowledged that any estimates of retirement payouts and valuations were based on interest rate calculations made by the IRS and that any changes in those calculations would affect the estimates. As everyone has experienced, interest rates have, in fact, increased and the impact of those increases are affecting many sectors of the economy.
“To now claim otherwise is disingenuous and irresponsible. It’s also disappointing that the union has chosen to file an unfounded labor complaint against us and is encouraging its members to violate the no-strike, no-lockout provisions of our current collective bargaining agreement, a contract that is binding on both parties.
“While we were initially encouraged that the union agreed to return to the bargaining table on behalf of their members, the union’s negotiators again walked away after two bargaining sessions this week and encouraged their members to engage in illegal conduct. These actions have put our colleagues into legal peril and forced us to seek the assistance of the courts to enforce the provisions of our contract.”
In 2021, a new Collective Bargaining Agreement was reached between Spreckels and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW).
During negotiations, Spreckels negotiated with the UFCW to transition from a defined-benefits plan to an enhanced 401(k) retirement plan. The CBA ratification vote was in December 2021.