Prominent Winery Hit for $252,000; Latino Workers Win Major Labor Case

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In landmark case, and after 8 years of appeals, prominent Napa winery must pay Latino workers $252,000 for violating their rights after union vote

In what has become a landmark case, 20 Latino workers for prominent Napa winemaker Hess Collection Winery will claim a huge labor victory over a stubborn employer, and receive a check for $252,000 – after a wait of more than eight years.

The California Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) will present the workers with the hefty check SATURDAY at 10 a.m. at 3800 Broadway (Fairfield Inn & Suites) after the winemaker lost appeals of charges it violated worker rights and harassed them after they voted to form a union in 1999.

The case is being hailed by labor advocates as landmark because the courts have now determined that employers must enter into an agreement mandated by the ALRB if they haven’t agreed to one within six months of a union election.

Hess Collection Winery workers voted through secret ballot under the ALRB to form a union in March of 1999. But, the winery balked at recognizing the union vote, refused to re-call laid-off workers, failed to pay contractual wages, fired workers without cause and refused to rehire workers with seniority. The ALRB intervened, and after years of arbitration and court actions, Hess Collection Winery lost and the workers prevailed, according to the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5.

“This is an example of how agriculture-related labor laws can protect workers whose right have been violated by unscrupulous employers,” said Peter Maturino, UFCW Local 5 Agriculture Division director.

One of the workers receiving a check, Flavio Solano, is a longtime Hess employee, and said he would “encourage other agricultural workers to speak out to defend their labor rights. And not be afraid.”

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