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Wed Oct 26 2005 Foster Farms Strike
Foster Farms Strikers Hundreds of Foster Farms employees, upset about wages and working conditions, went on strike Tuesday at the company's largest chicken plant. Union leaders claimed that about 80 percent of the day shift stayed out and that much of the night shift would follow suit. "We need respect," said 19-year employee Juana Santiago of Atwater, who works in packaging. "We need better treatment from the foremen. There are people working 30 years getting $9.33 an hour. That's ridiculous." Walsh said the average wage is about $10.50 an hour, and health and other benefits bring total compensation close to $17 an hour. The workers are seeking 50-cent-per-hour wage increases in each of the next three years. Foster Farms has proposed no raise the first year, 15 cents the second and 20 cents the third. The employees rebuffed the company's offer in May and talks have been at a standstill since. They were represented by the League of Independent Workers of the San Joaquin Valley, which has since affiliated with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. "We want the company to be fair with us, that's all, and realize that we are human, not slaves," said Singh, who said he makes $9.28 an hour on the processing line. Workers also complained about high health insurance costs, favoritism by supervisors, short notice of overtime shifts, pressure to increase production, and threats against union supporters. "They treat us like product instead of employees, instead of people," said warehouse worker David Reos of Livingston, who has spent three years at Foster Farms. Read More | Interviews with Workers

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