Employees picketed outside the Sun-Maid raisin processing plant in Kingsburg earlier this month over a proposed labor contract. Photo by David Castellon
Written by David Castellon
Workers at the Sun-Maid raisin processing plant in Kingsburg are back to work today following a strike that lasted just over two weeks.
The employees voted on Tuesday to approve a new labor contract with the raisin cooperative with higher wage increases than was offered in a previous contract and higher contributions to employees’ medical insurance plans, according to a press release issued by Sun-Maid Growers.
About 500 employees had gone on strike and picketed the plant over the labor agreement offered by Sun-Maid, with particular points of contention centering on annual pay increases they said were too low and a new requirement that the workers would have to pay for their health insurance.
Officials with Teamsters Local 431, which represents the Sun-Maid workers, couldn’t be reached immediately for comment to discuss the specifics of the new agreement, and the company press release stated only that the changes are now in effect and “These changes reflect nearly a 9 percent increase in the total contract value from the previous, three-year contract.”
The strike came at a critical time of the year for the nation’s largest dried fruit producer, as Valley grape vineyards were preparing to ship over their raisins for processing and packaging.
“We are pleased to have a new contract with the Teamsters Union today, and we hope Union members will find our new solution to be mutually beneficial and fair for all involved,” Harry Overly, president and CEO of Sun-Maid, said in the release. “The continued, long-term growth and sustainability of Sun-Maid rely on responsible business decisions that offer stability for both our employees and our partners, and we are optimistic that we achieved that today with the Teamsters Union.”