The Gerawan family has been farming in California's Central Valley for more than 60 years, expanding to become the nation's largest peach producer. Dan Gerawan hires thousands of farm workers every year, and prices have been good. But now he's dealing with a blast from the past that is sending ripples across the Golden State's agricultural community like a Steinbeck novel, except with more lawyers.
Over two decades ago, in 1990, the United Farm Workers organized laborers working for Gerawan Farming and, after legal skirmishes, the UFW was certified to represent those workers in 1992.
Contract negotiations began. There was one meeting.
And then…nothing. The UFW never came back, there was never any contract, and Gerawan Farming went back to business.
Until now. Last year, the UFW returned.
"We have nothing but chaos since," said Dan Gerawan. He received a letter from the union in October stating it was ready to negotiate a new contract. "I had to read the letter twice to believe it."
Gerawan said his farm pays higher wages than the competition, and his operation even provides some benefits. "Our employees like that, and that's why they work here," he said.