SoCal Farm Workers Canned for Fleeing Fire? All a Misunderstanding, Farm Says
The story of more than a dozen farm workers fired after fleeing smoke from the Springs fire in Ventura County has turned out to be the story of more than a dozen farm workers who still have a job.
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You see, after the story became a headline, the SoCal farm in question said it was all just a big misunderstanding:
It happened during the blaze last week when the strawberry field hands said they fled their workplace in Camarillo as the fire smoked them out.
But when they returned Friday, the workers reportedly said, they were told they were fired for walking off the job. A rep for the farm told Telemundo that the employees had left without permission and would be paid for work performed but were otherwise terminated.
The United Farm Workers union got involved, even though it doesn't represent the field hands, and voilà, the pickers had their jobs back.
Except that some reports (like this one) indicate that most didn't want their jobs back and took gigs elsewhere.
UFW organizer Lauro Barrajas would not speak to L.A. Weekly about the controversy. The group sent us this statement, however:
The group of strawberry pickers who had complained about losing their jobs because of the smoke from the Camarillo fires have been assured they have jobs at Crisalida Berry Farms.
Erik Nicholson, vice president of the union, called it a misunderstanding.
Dave Murray of Crisalida Berry Farms used the same word and said, "These workers were not fired and we welcome them back on our farm."
But with only one of 15 workers returning to the gig, it sounds like they were indeed fired -- at least temporarily.
Where there's smoke, there's fire.