Driscoll’s Support of the Farmworker

Harvesters picking
August 2020
We care deeply for everyone involved in our enterprise, including farmworkers, our family of independent growers, transportation providers, and grocers. We recognize that everyone is working tirelessly so we can continue to feed the needs of the public during COVID-19.  
Farmworkers play a vital role in the harvesting of our berries, and protecting their rights as essential workers isn’t just the right thing to do but crucial to the success of our business.  We are aware of inaccurate social media posts that are circulating that claim illegal wages or unsafe working conditions are occurring within our business enterprise.  We take any accusations seriously and swiftly follow-up on any concerns.
Driscoll’s Global Labor Standards apply to all our growers regardless of the growing region.
• Over 700 independent growers employ the farmworkers who help grow and harvest Driscoll’s berries. These growers provide job opportunities for workers to earn a decent living and they abide by Driscoll’s Global Labor Standards to ensure that workers are paid what is legally required and are treated with dignity and respect.
Driscoll’s Global Labor Standards support freedom of association, collective bargaining and the right for the farmworker to choose or not to choose union representation.  
There are no active strikes involving our independent growers or their employees.  Any petition that appears active or any claim of farmworkers within the Driscoll’s enterprise striking is outdated or inaccurate.
Driscoll’s goal is to create quality job opportunities while improving the communities in which we operate.  
Farmworker earnings and cost of living vary across our different growing regions globally and is dependent upon many factors. As part of Driscoll’s Global Labor Standards, our independent growers must meet or exceed all legal wage requirements. 
A majority of Driscoll’s berries are grown in the United States, and California is our largest berry growing region.  In California, all farmworkers are protected by labor laws, regardless of legal status. In addition, the California Employment Development Department (EDD) established the Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker Outreach Program (MSFW) as a rich resource to ensure families have access to programs such health care referrals, assistance with food or educational opportunities for children.  
Driscoll’s follows the sun to Mexico for part of the year to supplement berry supply. In Mexico, the vast majority of workers within the Driscoll's enterprise make a base pay of over two times Mexico’s Federal minimum wage and the typical harvester makes much more than the base pay during the peak growing season.
Driscoll’s partners with advocacy groups, key opinion leaders and government officials to improve the complex food system. 
Driscoll's and our independent growers recognize the need for investment to improve services for workers and their families, particularly in rural areas that lack infrastructure and access to health care and other social services. Over the last three years, Driscoll’s established the Fair Trade Program in the San Quintín Valley, a region in the Mexican state of Baja California and have raised over $1 million to put toward health, education, and water access projects. 
Driscoll’s Labor Program was awarded a 2019 Sedex Award for best health & safety labor program.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Driscoll’s priority is the health and safety of all those working tirelessly to bring food to the public. This Letter from our Chairman and CEO, J. Miles Reiter, outlines Driscoll’s commitments throughout this pandemic.  Additionally, Driscoll’s is deploying more than $4 MM in charitable funds to support the communities in which our berries are grown. 
We recognize issues may arise within our business enterprise that we need to address. As we navigate these challenges, the foundation of honesty, accuracy and trust play an important role in improving the food system. The sharing of incorrect information distracts from the goal of improving conditions for all farmworkers.
Please contact us with any additional or concerns. 

How much are farmworkers paid?

Regardless of the growing region, our Global Labor Standards state that “at a minimum, the employer shall ensure wages and benefits provided meet or exceed legal minimums and/or industry standards, and/or applicable collective agreements”. 
Driscoll’s largest growing region is California, where workers are protected by these specific labor laws – including minimum wage and overtime, regardless of legal status. Driscoll’s network of independent growers must follow all the same laws and regulations as any other industry. In many cases, harvesters can earn up to $30 per hour during peak season.

Is there any update regarding Rancho Laguna Farms?

We were in contact with all parties involved including the independent grower, their farmworkers, the advocacy group CAUSE and local government representation. We listened to everyone’s concerns directly, so that we could better understand all circumstances involved. Our understanding is that as of early June, Rancho Laguna Farms and their workforce are aligned with resolutions to any issues that were flagged. Click here for a full update, including a public statement from the owner of Rancho Laguna Farms. 

What is Driscoll’s stance on immigration?

 We are doing our best to change the conversation nationally beyond our enterprise and to contribute to making positive policy change. We are a member of National Immigration Forum’s Corporate Roundtable for the New American Workforce which advocates for the value of immigrants and immigration to our country.  
In addition, we are members of United Fresh and support the passage of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act.

How does Driscoll’s ensure that its independent growers maintain the labor standards set out by Driscoll’s?

We take any accusations seriously and move swiftly to assess what is happening on the ground. In addition to third party audits, Driscoll’s own employees –including district managers and food safety personnel – consistently visit ranches to ensure Driscoll’s standards are being upheld.

Why are there calls to boycott Driscoll's berries?

While we are aware of several social media posts containing outdated and inaccurate information, we are not aware of any current worker strikes or any noncompliance issues with our independent grower base. One of the old posts we are aware of speaks to the Baja labor strikes of 2015, which were resolved in June of that year when Baja farmworker leaders, the Mexican federal government and growers representing the fruit and vegetable industry reached an agreement to achieve better wages and working conditions for local farmworkers in that region. A second post speaks to a worker strike in 2017 in Washington State, which was resolved in June of that year when Sakuma Brothers and Familias Unidas por la Justicia (FUJ) reached a union contract agreement for their seasonal hand harvest employees, which remains in effect through 2021.

Do farmworkers have the proper resources for PPE and access to safety equipment during COVID-19?

Driscoll’s efforts during the pandemic have been focused around partnering with our network of independent growers to ensure our business enterprise meets the CDC agriculture guidelines. Social distancing, proper sanitation, cleaning, disinfection and personal protective equipment are key elements to preventing the spreading of the virus.