Episcopal Commission For Social Affairs Endorses Pledge For California Strawberry Workers’ Rights

Tuesday, April 22 1997

Ottawa (CCCB) — The members of the Episcopal Commission for Social Affairs decided unanimously to add their support to that of other church and community leaders to the growing concern for the rights of strawberry workers in California.

A pledge campaign, organized by the United Farm Workers of America, has been launched across Canada and the United States and is backed by Bishop Sylvester D. Ryan of Monterey, California, where the majority of the strawberry workers are employed.

It seeks to get church and community leaders, consumers and retailers to sign a pledge asking that the strawberry workers be given basic employment rights including a living wage, field sanitation, job security, health insurance and a right to representation for the 20,000 workers.

Canada is a major importer of California strawberries. Union organizers say that only 9.2 cents of every dollar spent by consumers for strawberries goes to the workers, down from 17.5 cents in 1985. The UFW is seeking a 50 percent increase in wages. The average strawberry workers receive $8,500 for a seven-month season. The strawberry production in California is worth $600 million annually.

The United Farm Workers can be contacted in Canada by calling Ailsa Curiel, at (416)598­4954.