More than 200 Santa Maria farmworkers received settlement checks from Rancho Laguna Farms on Feb. 21, a day after the farm agreed to a $30,000 informal settlement of an unfair labor practice charge with the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board.
The board distributed checks to 212 farmworkers at the Central Coast United for a Sustainable Economy office in Santa Maria. CAUSE is a nonprofit that does advocacy on behalf of farmworkers.
Rancho Laguna Farms, a strawberry farm in northern Santa Barbara County, first received the unfair labor practice charge on May 4, 2020. It was filed by CAUSE in conjunction with the ALRB on behalf of the farmworkers at the location.
The charge alleged that Rancho Laguna unlawfully fired workers after they engaged in a work stoppage seeking to increase their wages, according to a press release from the ALRB.
Rancho Laguna also allegedly threatened to call immigration officials. The farm called local law enforcement out to the fields, allegedly to retaliate against the workers.
The settlement agreement requires Rancho Laguna to compensate impacted workers for potential economic losses resulting from the alleged retaliation.
Rancho Laguna also agreed to provide its current agricultural employees with information about the settlement and information about their rights under the Agricultural Labor Relations Act and agreed to have the ALRB provide training to its supervisors on farmworkers’ legal rights.