Teamster rift jeopardizes Firebaugh training grant

April 6, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
-- A grant that would train workers in a tomato processing plant here is in jeopardy after union officials complained the parent company is killing medical benefits at another plant in Hollister. Firebaugh City Manager Jose Ramirez said the Tomatek plant would have used the $425,166 state grant to train workers on computer software and to improve their manufacturing skills.

But labor organizer Fritz Conle says the state shouldn't give money to a company that is cutting medical benefits. It has caused a rift within the Teamsters, which has workers in both plants.

Firebaugh suffers a 28 percent unemployment rate, mostly because the drought has eliminated many farm jobs.

The Hollister plant operates seasonally.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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