In the San Quintín Valley of Baja California, workers pick berries for BerryMex and MoraMex, partners of Driscoll’s. Most of these people are originally from Oaxaca, Guerrero and Chiapas. They worked under bad conditions, making as little as 7 dollars a day. In March, 2015, the workers went on strike, and the ensuing police crackdown turned violent, as dramatically reported in this story from AJ+. On Jan. 17, 2016, they formed a new union, the Sindicato Independiente Nacional Democrático de Jornaleros Agrícolas.
In March 2016, the San Quintín farmworkers and their union, SINDJA, celebrated the first anniversary of their uprising with a 4-day march from San Quintín to the US-Mexico border in Tijuana, where they were met by activists from the other side of the border, as reported on by Brooke Binkowski in this article in Snopes.com and by Elier Lizárraga (in Spanish) in this article in La Pared.
In March 2017 the San Quintín farmworkers celebrated the second anniversary of their uprising with a caravan from San Quintín to Mexico City.
Shortly after the strike, Driscoll’s affiliate Berrymex and Moramex raised wages in their fields in the valley of San Quintin – however they also increased the amount of work done in a day or during certain tasks (tareas) thus negating any real increase in earnings. Driscoll’s affiliate Berrymex and Moramex still pay what jornaleros describe as hunger wages.
As well, there are numerous instances of wage theft and violations of Mexican labor law. Here is one instance of wage theft found at Berrymex’s Chapala farm in 2017.
Numerous labor conflicts exist on Driscoll’s affiliate farms in the valley of San Quintin.
- On August 8, 2016, sixty machine operators on 25 of Berrymex’s farms held a strike to protest to low wages and a lack of protective equipment like overalls, gloves, boots, helmets and safety glasses. These workers prepare the soil, fumigate, spray chemicals and do other tasks before planting. These striking workers marched from Emiliano Zapata along the highway to the offices of Berrymex to make themselves heard.
- On December 10, 2016, managers at Berrymex’s farm Santo Domingo announced to a number of work crews (totaling a couple hundred workers) that they were to sign a voluntary termination letter and would be notified when work was available a few weeks later. The work crews grew angry and spontaneously mobilized a wildcat strike. Through their mobilization a peaceful solution to the conflict was assured as the grower kept the jornaleros employed (thus receiving benefits like seniority) but at fewer days until the season picked up a few weeks later.
The only way to ensure the safety of the workers, the protection of consumers and the ability of farmworkers families to feed themselves by earning adequate wages is a collective bargaining agreement with SINDJA.