Recently, an independent media group, IndyBay, published an article on their website calling for a boycott of Driscoll's Berries. The media company, based in the San Francisco Bay area, cited workers who claimed that Driscoll's was exploiting workers at their Baja California farms, paying very low wages and preventing workers from creating or being part of a union, as well as allegations of sexual harassment.
In part, the article stated, "Workers are demanding - freedom to unionize, a collective contract with SINDJA (a Mexican agricultural workers union), no more sexual harassment, daycare centers, and fair wages." The article went on to say, "Besides paying miserable wages, Driscoll's, and the companies which supply them berries deny unions free access to their employees. In contrary, all their workers that organize or affiliate with another independent union are fired. Also, workers are only hired under the condition that they are not affiliated with the Regional Confederation of Mexican Workers (CROM)."
The group are calling for workers to participate in a "Global Day of Action" against Driscoll's as a form of protest to have their claims heard.
Driscoll's has responded to the article, firstly pointing out that IndyBay allows anyone to self-publish their work on the platform. This means that potentially, any information that is posted has not been fact-checked and is open to false statements.
In regards to the allegations of poor wages and not allowing workers to unionize, Driscoll's states that all their grower partners around the world must be aligned with the company's labor standards which they say uphold worker's rights as regards unions or any other groups as well as fair wages.
"Driscoll’s continues to take any concerns about how our independent growers treat their farm workers seriously," said a Driscoll's spokesperson. "We hold these growers accountable to our Global Labor Standards by audits conducted by an independent, third-party auditing firm. Our Labor Standards also include the right of farm workers to join, or not join, any and all organizations without intimidation or harassment. This is the choice of the workers and not Driscoll’s or any other organization or group."
The spokesperson continued, "We continue to invite any individuals or groups with worker welfare concerns to meet or speak with us. Given this commitment to an open and productive dialogue, we remain disappointed that Mr. Rojas and other groups have declined numerous in-person meetings with Driscoll’s and continue to disseminate misinformation and false accusations. Our belief is that groups or individuals that knowingly share incorrect information distract from the goal of enriching local communities in which these farm workers and their families live and work."
In conclusion, Driscoll's said many of their workers in Mexico are, in fact, unionized. "Additionally, the Baja strike for the entire agriculture industry, not just Driscoll’s Berries, was resolved several years ago. Driscoll’s largest grower in Baja currently has union representation and is one of the highest paid growers in Mexico."