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Strike by 400+ blueberry workers enters 3rd day

Posted: 10:06 AM, May 18, 2016
Updated: 2016-05-18 13:07:58-04

McFarland, Calif.—After an overwhelming majority of the 450 blueberry workers at Klein Management signed petitions asking to be represented by the United Farm Workers on the third day of their strike, the UFW filed for a union representation election to be conducted by the state Agricultural Labor Relations Board at the McFarland-based company.

Officials with the ALRB verified on Tuesday that 424 of the 450 workers were on strike. State law requires balloting to be conducted within 48 hours after a valid election petition is filed when workers have walked out of the fields.

Workers remained on their picket lines outside the blueberry fields for the third straight day on Wednesday. Events began Monday when employees protested unfair labor practices and a reduction in their piece rate pay. The company responded to the protests by firing three crews of blueberry workers, which prompted the strike.

Klein Management markets its blueberries under the Gourmet Trading Company label. The Kern County farm town of McFarland is known as the setting for the popular 2015 feature film McFarland U.S.A. starring Kevin Costner.