Farm workers speak out after table grape operation closure notice

Gerawan farming sent letters to employees who worked in table grapes during the 2015 season in unincorporated areas between Kerman and Fresno.

The letter says table grape operations will stop in late February of 2016, but this will not affect the employees' other work with the company.

Gerawan Farming, Inc. says more than 2,500 employees will be affected by the decision to end table grape operations in Fresno County. Longtime employee Silvia Lopez doesn't understand why the decision was made.

The letter Gerawan sent to its employees doesn't give an answer, according to her. "Cause we think and know that we do our jobs right and we give the best we can do and we give a quality job," Lopez said. "So, I don't know why they are doing that."

She's been a strong voice among the Gerawan workers who want to cut ties with the United Farm Workers of America. Last August, she told Action News why they're happy working for Gerawan without the union's help.

"They have our benefits, they have discounts, we have bonuses," Lopez said in August. "We have everything; it's perfect."

But now Lopez says things will change, for the worse. She says of all the Gerawan crops, table grapes offer the most work. Accounting for the majority of many farmworkers annual income.

"Our family's are going to be struggling that time," Lopez said. "Our students we have kids in college is going to suffer in that time. We are going to be suffering, we are going to be struggling at that time."

The company says this does not affect employees' employment in other company farming operations, but Lopez believes any other work cannot make up for the loss of earnings from table grapes.

It's a crop they've come to know well, but will soon be gone at Gerawan farming.
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