Rosalinda experienced for the first time this summer what working under a union contract means. A single mother of three teenagers ages 14, 17 and 18, Rosalinda and her kids had worked for the previous 9 years for a grower in NW Ohio without a collective bargaining agreement.
The treatment was OK, she says, although the grower would ask them to leave the farm and to come back as often as his mood would swing, sometimes even four times a year. Wages depended on the grower’s mood as well. Sometimes they were paid $350 per week for the four of them, sometimes $200 a week, and sometimes nothing! The grower would tell them they needed to work without pay because they were living in a trailer on the farm. Payment was in cash, no taxes or contributions whatsoever.
This summer her fate changed. She moved to a farm under contract with FLOC. “It was a good season,” she says. “We made good money during the harvest but this time we were paid for pre-harvest work as well, and above the minimum wage.” The caring of the cucumber plant before the harvest –what is known as pre-harvest work- was done for free before FLOC won the first union contracts and remains this way in most non-contract farms. With the Union, says Rosalinda amazed by the change, and “an hour worked is an hour paid.”