Raul Calvo: Good Employee Communication Shows Respect

Organizations Must Improve Their Culture

By Laurie Greene, Founding Editor

Communicating with employees on the farm is essential. Furthermore, according to Raul Calvo, owner of Employer Services, the manner in which an employer communicates is critical in terms of making employees feel respected.

“The services I provide to employers, including those in agriculture,” Calvo explained, “are typically designed to improve the culture of their organizations by helping them better manage their employees.”

Calvo described himself as “nonstop-busy because as long as companies have employees, there will always be some sort of conflict. And there are certain skills that foremen and supervisors should have to be able to better manage their employees. Unfortunately, the majority of foremen and supervisors are not very adept in those skills, so we work on helping them with those skills.”

“One such skill is conflict resolution—their ability to resolve conflict among themselves, with their employees, and among the employees,” Calvo said.

“Another skill is their ability to manage and minimize favoritism, probably one of the most difficult things to manage. Favoritism causes employees to come to work with this sour taste in their mouths. You know, they’re constantly thinking, ‘Why me?’ ‘Why not me?’ or ‘Why do they only do this?’ So, favoritism makes any little issue or small problem become much bigger because the employees are already carrying this baggage.”

“Third, we evaluate their ability to communicate with employees, which is very difficult.”

Moreover, Calvo believes communicating technical information is exceptionally difficult, “so we work on programs to help supervisors develop that skill. For instance, I’ll see a supervisor talking with an employee about a movie, a TV show, or a sports game they saw, and they’re communicating this vivid information so clearly. But as soon as the supervisor needs to communicate technical information that is required for the employee to be able to do the job, the supervisor stumbles and often says the wrong thing to the employee.”

“Finally,” Calvo said, “supervisors need to meet with their employees on a regular basis—two or three times per week sometimes. Meetings that should take three to five minutes to end up taking 20 to 25 minutes. A meeting that should take 10 minutes takes 40 to 45 minutes because the supervisor does not have the skills to run an effective meeting. So, we put them through the process of running effective meetings and to be quicker and more to the point.”

These are four essential skills that supervisors and foremen need to develop, according to Calvo.

2019-04-22T17:01:52-07:00April 22nd, 2019|

Tom Nassif: Ag Immigration Reform is Critical

All Fruits and Vegetables Harvested by Foreign Hands

By Cory Lunde, Western Growers Assoc. Director of Strategic Initiatives and Communications

Recently, Western Growers President and CEO Tom Nassif detailed the critical labor shortages facing American agriculture and laid out the case for agricultural immigration reform before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship.

In his testimony, Nassif stated that experienced workers are aging out of the agricultural workforce, with few Americans lining up to take their place, despite wages well above state and federal minimums. Farmers in all sectors of U.S. agriculture, especially in the labor-intensive fruit and vegetable industries, are experiencing chronic labor shortages, which have been exacerbated by recent interior immigration enforcement and tighter border security policies.

As a result of the uncertain agricultural labor market, Nassif explained, many American farmers are either shifting toward more mechanized crops or moving their operations to other countries.

“The simple fact is this,” Nassif said, “fruits and vegetables that are eaten in the United States will be harvested by foreign hands.”

He continued: “The simple question for you, as members of Congress, is do you want those foreign hands harvesting your fruits and vegetables to be on farms here in the United States or do you want to see production continue to shift to farms in foreign countries?”

After touching on the existing, flawed H-2A agricultural guest worker program, rife with burdensome regulatory red tape, Nassif outlined a two-pronged proposal for agricultural immigration reform that jointly provides a pathway to legalization for existing farmworkers and their immediate families and creates a more flexible, efficient and market-based agricultural worker visa program to ensure a sufficient future flow of labor.

Nassif concluded that while “immigration can be among the most divisive and difficult to resolve in Washington,” this issue is decidedly non-partisan, as agricultural immigration reform is really about securing the future of American agriculture and, by extension, long-term U.S. food security.

Western Growers appreciates the efforts of Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren and Ranking Member Ken Buck to elevate the dialogue around this vital issue, and we look forward to working across the aisle to advance bipartisan legislation that provides our country and farmers with a legal, stable and reliable source of agricultural labor.

2019-04-16T15:40:09-07:00April 16th, 2019|

Honor Cesar Chavez’s Legacy by Confronting UFW Corruption

Chavez Spent His life Trying to Improve Farm Worker’s Lives, Instead of Threatening Their Lives

By Jesse Rojas, Spokesperson for Pick Justice

Cesar Chavez spent his life trying to improve life for farmworkers, fighting for changes he felt would bring about civil rights and justice for workers. At the end of this month, California state legislators plan to honor Cesar Chavez’s birthday as a day of public service.

The work Cesar Chavez did organizing farmworkers is credited with spurring better working conditions and increased wages, putting people who perform difficult work but still struggle to provide for their families a step closer to achieving the American Dream in California.

Jesse Rojas, CEO, The Redd Group

Cesar Chavez has been portrayed as the founder of The United Farm Workers union to help struggling farm workers achieve a better life.
Growing up in the fields in the Central Valley town of Delano, this fight begun by Cesar Chavez is personal to me. I too come from an immigrant background, I’ve eaten with the farmworkers who fought alongside Cesar Chavez and heard their stories.

Today, however, Cesar Chavez would be saddened to see what the UFW has become.

After voting overwhelmingly to leave the UFW, Gerawan farmworkers spent five long years in court fighting the UFW and the ALRB, who refused to count their votes until they were ordered to by a judge.
The Gerawan workers, just like the farmworker activists before they were fighting for a better life – and against a UFW contract that would have lowered their pay.

While in Cesar Chavez’s time the UFW gave farmworkers a voice, today’s UFW instead seeks to silence the workers.

When Gerawan farmworker activist Silvia Lopez, one of the leaders of the fight to leave the UFW, tried to speak with former Governor Jerry Brown, a top UFW leader physically blocked her way. The whole incident was captured on video and reported by the Sacramento Bee.

Cesar Chavez spoke out against humiliation and oppression, such as the methods of today’s UFW bosses.

The Gerawan farmworkers are far from alone. Today, the UFW represents just 1 percent of farmworkers, and more petition the ALRB to leave all the time. As reported by the Los Angeles Times, former ALRB Chairman William B. Gould IV, who resigned from the agency in disgust, stated the ALRB now spends more time on petitions from workers trying to leave the union than those trying to join.

In fact, the UFW even abuses its own workers, who the Los Angeles Times reported had to take the union to court to force the union to pay almost $2 million in unpaid wages and penalties.

Cesar Chavez devoted his life to fighting for workers rights. He supported workers right to choose whether or not to join a union. Civil rights for farmworkers cannot be achieved when the government looks the other way when workers are abused, regardless of who is committing the acts of oppression.

That’s why we cannot honor Cesar Chavez’s legacy without speaking out against the abuses of today’s UFW.

Jesse Rojas is a farm worker rights activist, spokesperson for Pick Justice, and founder of California Farm Workers & Families PAC. Rojas is a tireless advocate for liberty and civil rights and often provides news commentary on issues such as entrepreneurship, labor relations, and politics. 

Rojas also launched Mi America En La Radio, the first conservative Spanish-language radio show in the Central Valley. As CEO of The Redd Group, LLC, his organization offers labor relations, human resources consulting, public relations and political consulting.

2019-03-24T12:52:59-07:00March 22nd, 2019|

ALRB/UFW Access Update Meeting March 21 in Bakersfield

Meeting March 21, 7 am -11 am at Hodel’s Restaurant in Bakersfield

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

Jesse Rojas, the founder, and CEO of The Redd Group; Michael Saqui from the Saqui Law Group; and Raul Calvo from Employer Services are the presenters of an upcoming important seminar. It will specifically focus on agriculture and farm labor contractors,  growers, packers, and shippers, regarding ALRB and UFW access. Attendees will learn what to do when the United Farm Workers union is wanting to take access and speak with farm employees to try to unionize them.

Jesse Rojas, The Redd Group

“The reason why we wanted to do this now before the season started is that the UFW has been very active this year, said Rojas. “The union is trying to get out of the hole that they’ve been in after so many losses. They pulled a big PR stunt earlier this year at Wonderful in Delano, and we also heard that they’re continuing to hire multiple organizers, which indicates that they’re trying to get more active in our industry this year.”

The dos and don’ts will be discussed when it comes to the union trying to take access to your employees or trying to gain access in your fields. Saqui will be presenting his hot topics in labor and employment. He will also delve into the overtime pay in agriculture, which is confusing and ever-changing.

“Raul Calvo will speak about how to improve employee relations and communications with your employees out in the field and avoid having a third party attempt to step in and become the medium of communication between you and your employees,” Rojas said.

State Senator Shannon Grove will also be speaking at the event at 8:30 in the morning, and she will be focusing on some of the legislation—the good and bad law that’s currently happening at the capital that’s going to affect agriculture.

“She will also speak about the general overreach of state agencies such as the ALRB,” Rojas said.

The location of the meeting is Hodel’s Country Dining at 5917 Knudsen Drive, Bakersfield, CA 93308.

For more information and to register, RSVP at Jesse@reddgroup.org or call 844-946-7333. Seating is limited.

 

2019-03-12T16:32:12-07:00March 12th, 2019|

Arnold Torres: Latinos Not Respected By Latino Legislators

All Latinos Do Not Think Alike

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

The politics of the Hispanic farm employees in California is interesting. Many think there is a gulf between farmers and their Hispanic employees. Not so, said Arnold Torres, a journalist, consultant, and partner in the Sacramento-based public policy consulting firm Torres and Torres.

“I do not think there is a gulf between the farm employee in the valley and the owners of the farms. But I do think there is a big gulf between the Hispanic worker employees and the state legislature,” Torres said.

“You would think in the mind of the Latino Legislator, they believe that they are everything that these foreign workers need. That’s the fallacy because the Latino urban member of the legislature deals with the farm worker as a stereotype,” Torres explained. “They don’t sit there and have a conversation with them, and when they do, if any farm worker does not satisfy the image of a Cesar Chavez farm worker profile, then that worker is a sellout. That worker is on the grower side.”

This is all part of the fallacy of Latino solidarity.

“That’s where I have to agree with the attitude and the disposition of certain Latinos in the valley. However, the problem is what other Latinos in the Central Valley are doing to consistently challenge that disconnect,” Torres said.

“Every Latino is not monolithic. We don’t all think alike. So how does the grower and the farm worker community properly, effectively portray themselves to a population of elected representatives who happen to be Latino or happen to be white liberal or African American liberal or Asian liberal and say: ‘Ladies and gentlemen, we are not supporters of the union argument just because we’re farm workers?’ ” Torres said.

2019-01-25T23:26:48-08:00January 25th, 2019|

California Fresh Fruit Association: Top Issues in 2019

Immigration and Labor Cost are Big Issues

News Release

The California Fresh Fruit Association (CFFA) recently announced their Top Issues for 2019. Members were surveyed in December 2018 and ranked the top issues for CFFA to concentrate on in 2019.

George Rodanovich

President of the California Fresh Fruit Association, George Radanovich, stated “As in years past, our membership has given us strong direction in identifying their top priorities for 2019. The issues of labor, water, and food safety, will lead our list of issues. CFFA will continue to serve as the primary liaison between regulatory and legislative authorities by acting as the unified voice for our members on these and many other issues.”

Here are the results:

1) Federal Immigration Policies Addressing Current and Future Labor Force

2) Increasing Wage Costs (Base Wages/OT Thresholds)

3) Water Supply Availability and Curtailment

4) Immigration Enforcement (ICE)

5) Groundwater Management Requirements (S.G.M.A.)

6) Labor Regulatory Compliance

7) Water Quality Requirements and Clean Drinking Water Liability

8) Federal and State Food Safety Compliance Requirements

9) Health Care Costs (Policy Costs/Paid Sick Leave)

10)  Plant Health Materials (Pesticide, Herbicides, Fungicides, etc.)

As always, it will be the Association’s goal to work on behalf of its members to address these issues and many more, in an effort to create a better working environment for their businesses.

2021-05-12T11:01:50-07:00January 15th, 2019|

Arnoldo Torres: Latino Leaders Must Do Better!

Op-Ed To California Ag Today

Latinos Need a Bigger Voice

By Arnold Torres

In this last round of elections, Democrats ignored the ugly and nationalistic demagoguery of immigrants from Central America that the 45th President pursued relentlessly before Election Day. They allowed the President to continue building a false narrative around immigration. In spite of many Republicans supporting some of the most offensive and verbal racial profiling by a sitting President, our Democratic response was, “vote for me, I am not Republican.”

This President was not only focused on mid-term elections but laying the foundation for his 2020 re-election. He spared no lie to whip up his base.

We heard no substance from Democrats except outrage and sharp criticism of Republicans. Liberal groups like the Center for American Progress and the Third Way noted that running on immigration would not be helpful in securing votes in states and Congressional districts won by the President in 2016. Democrats seemed paralyzed with political fear that they could not capitalize on the anger and growing rejection of Trumpism if they addressed the immigration issue.latinos

Democrats aggressively postured when Republicans followed their script of scapegoating and demagoguing immigrants. They hid behind their words of outrage, old proposals about legalizing Dreamers and no border wall and “abolishing” ICE. They offered no new vision for re-calibrating the policies and discussions that were needed to effectively and honestly deal with the pressures of desperate mass movements of people.

Democrats allowed this President to continue reinforcing a false, ignorant, and racist nationalism about Latino immigrants. The so-called “caravan of invaders” is being “pushed” from sending countries for the same reasons that pushed the ships that sailed with many European refugees/migrants that arrived on U.S. shores in the 1800s and early 1900s.

Latino “leaders” in the national immigration struggle and Latino elected officials in Congress have contributed mightily to the behavior of both parties. It really makes more sense if these Latino “leaders” would stop demanding specific action that has not come about even under President Obama. We must offer viable and balanced policies. The mass movement of people is originating in this hemisphere, and so it MUST fall to us to develop solutions, not ideology.

Due to the inaction of both parties, our community must develop the political agenda for immigration reform that will benefit our nation. Our vision must be specific and comprehensive. The narrative must be honest, factual, balanced and practical and we must begin working with various members of the California Congressional delegation from agricultural producing districts, such as ours. The Trump narrative does nothing more than to pollute the disposition of the U.S. public to push for effective and balanced immigration reform.

There is public support for reasonable reform; the Trump narrative has created a caustic image of immigrants that has become the default position of his base, which is infecting others. The time to act is now. We must realistically address the labor shortages in the agricultural and service industries in California and their dependency on unauthorized labor. We have to frame the issue in economic terms since humanitarian concerns clearly have not been enough.

Our policy outline must offer a constructive and practical new vision. It must include smart enforcement at ports of entry, increased resources for the Coast Guard, increased resources for detection of opioid trafficking from China and India via the internet, and increased resources for local law enforcement in cities located along drug corridors in the U.S. only for enforcement activities related to drug interdiction. Our immigration reform package must include enforcement of existing immigration laws. The GOP narrative is that Democrats are for open borders. Our new agenda must address the issue that drugs from Mexico significantly enter through ports of entry and via the internet from countries outside the hemisphere.

Our agenda must utilize evaluation analyses and propose no private sector detention centers—a vigorous oversight—and accountability mechanism outside of the Department of Homeland Security of these centers and ICE, Border Patrol agents, and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service.

Enforcement must be balanced with permanent legal status for all “Dreamers” who meet the original criteria, temporary legal status for the parents of “Dreamers” who have a history of employment, especially in states that had labor shortages in agriculture, construction, and service sectors. We have to include a pilot temporary worker program with Mexico in U.S. states that have documented labor shortages in the above industries to begin to test new ideas. All federal and state labor laws would apply to these workers along with an increase in funding to monitor their treatment, working and living conditions, and employer compliance.

A critical component that we must explore is the creation of working groups between the U.S. and essential sending countries such as Mexico and those in Central America to discuss how to create a stable economic and security environment in their countries and specific regions that are the source of population movements to the U.S. We must not repeat the mistakes our economic and political policies have committed in these countries that are the foundation of the “push” factors, while not losing sight of the “pull” factors that exist within the U.S. serving as magnets for undocumented workers.

Lastly, we must evaluate and provide for a phased-in mechanism of these policy initiatives and include a legalization process, for the undocumented persons currently in the U.S., in the last phase of this process.

We know that Congressman Panetta and his colleagues from the Central Valley have acknowledged the ugly narrative but have taken no decisive action to date. It is important to note that two of his colleagues lost re-election. Was their loss due in part to the failure to move concretely on immigration, especially in the agricultural sector? It is essential that there be transparency around what Mr. Panetta and the Democrat majority in the House of Representatives will do to begin resolving the growing complexities around immigration. Let’s begin our discussion with a town hall meeting to take place in Salinas that allows an open dialogue concerning our proposal and what our new Congress intends to do.

Arnoldo S. Torres is a journalist, consultant, partner in the Sacramento, California based public policy consulting firm Torres & Torres, and the executive director for the California Hispanic Health Care Association.

2018-12-26T16:22:53-08:00December 26th, 2018|

Worker Transportation Pay is a New Threat to Agriculture

Plaintiff Trial Attorneys Pushing For Ag to Pay for Transportation Time

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

Something serious that could cost growers a lot of money concerns paying for worker transportation to and from a field, which traditionally has not been paid.

Michael Saqui is the principal owner of the Saqui Law Group, with offices in Roseville and Salinas. He specializes in labor and employment in agriculture.

“We’ve been having area meetings around the state regarding what we consider to be the most pressing and catastrophic issue facing agriculture today,” Saqui said. “The macro view is the proliferation of litigation against farmers for wage and hour Private Attorney General Acts.”

Saqui said it’s moved from nonproductive time, which could have bankrupted many companies had there not been a fixed put in through AB 1513.

“However, now the California Rural Legal Assistance and plaintiff attorneys have moved to the next big issue and that’s farm worker transportation.”

Farm worker transportation spins off the fact that we have a serious labor shortage, and we’re transporting workers greater distances than ever before.

And workers in car crews and buses and vans are being transported or transport themselves greater and greater distances.

“And the theory, of course from plaintiff trial attorneys is that even when they’re clearly voluntary mechanisms by which workers get transported on buses and vans, that it’s defacto involuntary because their theory is that farm workers have no position or station in life to make their own free decisions or have no other means, which is simply not the case.”

“Our workers for the last 30 years through car cruise and carpooling arrangements in vans have been getting around in servicing our crop needs and we have the best, most productive workforce on the planet,” said Saqui. “The plaintiff trial attorneys just keep nipping at different issues, and this is an issue that could potentially cost us hundreds of millions of dollars.”

For more information go to www.CAFarmersforFairness.com.

2018-09-20T17:00:38-07:00September 20th, 2018|

Gerawan Worker Votes to Be Counted in Fresno

Historic Day Following Five Years of Vote Count Suppression

News Release Edited By Patrick Cavanaugh

Today, the Agricultural Labor Relations Board announced that it will count the votes of Gerawan Farms workers after five years of illegally refusing to tally the ballots.

Supreme Court

Silvia Lopez, Gerawan farm worker spokesperson

Determined to avoid having union dues taken from their wages by a union that had abandoned the workers for almost two decades, Silvia Lopez and the Gerawan Farms employees courageously organized themselves in opposition to forced union membership. In November of 2013, thousands of Gerawan Farms employees voted on whether or not they would be represented by the United Farm Workers (UFW) in the largest worker election in ALRB history.

For five long years, the ALRB has suppressed the vote by refusing to count the ballots while the workers fought to vindicate their civil rights.   The Fifth District Court of Appeal in Fresno ruled in May that the suppression of the vote violated the workers’ statutory and Constitutional rights, and ordered the votes counted. Only after a dismissal of all appeals by the California Supreme Court did the government finally agree to count the ballots.

At 8:30 am on September 18, 2018, the ballots will be removed from the ALRB safe for inspection by the parties, and transportation to Fresno.

The ballots will be counted at 2550 Mariposa Mall, Room 1036 in Fresno at approximately 10:00 am. This tally represents a victory for farmworker rights over a union and a government agency that has tried to silence them.

2018-09-17T17:56:17-07:00September 17th, 2018|

A Different Perspective on the Immigration Controversy

Mexico Has a Responsibility Regarding Immigration, Expert Says

By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor

With immigration becoming a hot-button issue within the political arena, those in agriculture have a deeper insight into this controversial topic. Arnoldo Torres, of the National Institute for Latino Policies out of Sacramento and partner with the public policy consulting firm Torres & Torres, has long been a leading voice for immigration within the ag sector—while realizing both countries (America and Mexico) need to do their part.

immigration reform

Arnoldo Torres

“Mexico has a responsibility to its people. The Central American countries have a responsibility. We’ve got to make sure that those countries are doing what they have to do to keep people from having to go elsewhere to make a living and to live,” Torres explained.

He knows this from personal experience, when his grandfather made a move to America from Mexico, with no opportunity to go back.

“They realized that if they had gone back, there was never going to be a life for them back home,” he said.

Torres further added that the desire for immigrant workers purely correlates with their unique work ethic.

“There’s that saying that necessity is the mother of invention. Well, necessity is the mother of work. I mean, we work to address a necessity.”

2018-09-14T16:25:21-07:00September 14th, 2018|
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