When Lucy Rodríguez heard in regards to the bankruptcy of Prima Wawona, one of many largest producers and packers of tree fruit in California, her concern was not a lot for herself however for all of the seasonal staff within the fields and the packing homes, since lots of them had been relying on Could to return to work for the corporate and have that earnings.

“As a result of there have been lots of people after which, since we had simply opened the fourth (packing) line this yr, nearly 200 extra folks had already been added to the corporate and there have been already many people,” mentioned Rodríguez, 27.

Staff, who voted down a unionization effort by the United Farm Staff, have lengthy touted the corporate’s pay and advantages. A lot of them began with Gerawan Farming earlier than it merged with Wawona Packing to form Prima Wawona.

Due to the chapter the Fresno County fruit firm is making ready to promote 16,000 acres of prime farmland.

An organization doc of normal full-time positions exhibits there are 5,411 staff. Of these, 3,743 are seasonal staff. All shall be out of a job by mid-March.

The corporate operated packing vegetation in Reedley and Cutler and shipped hundreds of thousands of circumstances of peaches, plums, and nectarines throughout the nation and all over the world.

Rodríguez labored on the Cutler plant for 2 years.

Prima Wawona, managed by its new house owners, filed for Chapter 11 chapter on Oct. 13, 2023, with greater than $600 million in debt.

“The corporate is an enormous a part of our life as a result of it provides us work for a very long time and we get lots of hours,” mentioned Rodríguez, who lives in Orange Cove.

Rodríguez mentioned she was an operator within the high quality management space and reported to the individual in command of packing, the stewards, and the supervisors if one thing was going flawed with the fruit in that space.

For Rodríguez, working at Prima Wawona “is sort of like being in a household, the stewards and supervisors labored us properly and all of us labored properly and all the things all the time went because it ought to.”

“I favored that the corporate all the time ran properly and so they all the time tried to do probably the most they may for the folks,” Rodríguez mentioned. “They handled us very properly. They offered all the things we would have liked more often than not for us to work in an surroundings properly.”

Rodríguez mentioned that whereas she hasn’t determined if he’ll search one other job elsewhere, she already has one thing in thoughts in case she wants it.

“Possibly I’m going to attend to see what occurs with the corporate, however I’m nonetheless roughly trying,” Rodríguez mentioned, including that she is going to wait to see what occurs, whether or not they do one thing else once more with the identical firm area or see what occurs with the chapter case.

“Thanks for the chance to place meals on our desk”

Rodríguez shared the information of the corporate’s chapter in a Jan. 13 Fb publish, the place she thanked all of the mayordomas and supervisors and particularly the employees.

“Thanks for the chance to place meals on our desk and all that you just gave us. You may be missed. Because of the amarradores and everybody,” Rodríguez wrote within the publish, which acquired a number of feedback.

Among the many feedback was that of Yoana Andrade: “It’s true how unhappy so many households rely upon this work”.

And Alejandra Díaz: “I nonetheless can’t consider it.”

Rodríguez’s sister, Norberta Martínez Rodríguez, labored for a few years with the corporate within the fruit fields alongside along with her late husband.

“Sadly, corporations go bankrupt as a result of folks solely take into consideration their revenue. They don’t suppose that all of us want the work, not simply me. How we, who’re all the time within the discipline, want it,” mentioned Martínez Rodríguez, who at 66 years of age nonetheless works.

Martínez Rodríguez mentioned she has no complaints about working for that firm for the reason that stewards all the time handled them properly on a regular basis.

“They by no means discriminated towards us, they paid us properly. We by no means had any issues,” Martínez Rodríguez mentioned.

“I’ve issues as a result of there are a lot of folks like my sister Lucy who work there,” mentioned Martínez Rodríguez. “I’m frightened in regards to the folks, that hundreds of individuals labored and we’re all frightened in regards to the job. That it’s not simple to get a job some place else.”

Like her sister, Martínez Rodríguez doesn’t lose hope that the corporate will proceed.

“Look, we’re ready to see what occurs. Let’s see if different folks purchase it, proper? Or to see what occurs. Allow them to see us again there,” mentioned Martínez Rodríguez.

“We’re all on this nation to work and all of us who’re there, proper now we who’re frightened are purely working folks,” she mentioned.

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