It takes dozens of talented people to achieve our goal of producing and delivering the best food possible within hours of harvest. Many on our team have been with us for years, and we count on their experience and dedication.
The dignity of farm labor is a founding principle of Swanton Berry Farm. From the beginning, we wanted to present our customers with a product produced under the best working conditions possible. What would be the point of farming organically if the workers were underpaid, over-worked, or treated without respect? Just carrying the California Certified Organic label did not address these important issues.
We are proud that Swanton Berry Farm was the first organic farm in the US to sign a contract with the United Farmworkers of America AFL-CIO and to carry the Union label.
The Unionization of our employees formalizes the professional relationship we have with our employees as co-partners in our joint effort to produce the best strawberries available anywhere. We have an extensive written contract which spells out many protections and processes which are important to our employees.
And it gives them the best pay scale in the industry, a medical plan, a retirement plan, vacation pay, and holiday pay. Additionally, we pay at an hourly rate (rather that a piece rate) so that our employees don't scramble so fast that they risk permanent damage to their bodies in the rush to make a few more dollars in the day.
We give unlimited time off for employees to take care of their children's needs. During any given day, one or two or three employees will leave for a while to take care of some family business.
This package of benefits naturally raises the cost of our strawberries, but we feel that our customers will be happy to pay a little more knowing that our workforce is treated fairly.
Another important factor is protecting the physical health of our employees. Doing the same task over and over again is not only boring, but can be physically harmful. Since we grow a number of different crops, we can offer some variety in work tasks during a given week. A typical workweek will involve strawberry picking, weeding, and harvest of vegetables.
We also offer low-cost housing to our employees. Over 75% of our employees take advantage of this benefit.
And, we try to have a good time! While farm work is hard work, it is made easier by good companionship and good humor.
We show our appreciation for good work by passing on the compliments of our customers. We recognize the fact that everything we do springs from work done in the field.
We involve as many employees as possible in the decision-making process. And we try to share as much information as possible with employees.
Farm work at Swanton Berry Farm is an intellectual as well as physical process. We depend on the ideas and observations of all employees. It takes a bit longer to do things when you ask several opinions about what should be done next, but in the end, we make better decisions.
We treat our employees as professionals, not cogs in a 'food machine'. The Union label is your assurance that the food you are eating is produced by professionals under the best possible working conditions.