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Positive Practices in Farm Labor Management

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Positive Practices in Farm Labor Management


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  • 1. Positive Practices inwww.attra.ncat.org 1-800-346-9140 Farm Labor Management Keeping Your Employees Happy and Your Production ProfitablePhoto credit: Rex Dufour Photo credit: Judith RedmondPhoto credit: Judith Redmond Photo credit: Rex Dufour COLUMBIA FOUNDATION
  • 2. Positive Practices in Farm Labor ManagementTable of Contents Photo credit: Judith Redmond The positive practices identified in this handbook are arranged in order of importance from the perspective of employees interviewed for CIRS research conducted in 2006. These factsheets define the practices, offer suggestions and examples of how to implement them, explain their benefits to the farm, and provide resources for more information. Introduction: Creating a “Triple-Win” Situation for Farmers, Employees and Agricultural Communities ......................................4 1. Respectful Treatment ......................................................................5 2. Fair Compensation .........................................................................6 3. Year-Round Employment ...............................................................7 4. Traditional Benefits .........................................................................8 Photo credit: Rex Dufour 5. Non-Traditional Benefits ................................................................9 6. Safe and Healthy Workplace .........................................................10 7. Direct Hiring and Recruitment ....................................................11 8. Team-Based Management Structures .............................................12 9. Open Communication and Decision-Making ...............................13 10. Opportunities for Professional Development and Advancement .................................................................... 14 Adding Value to Your Products with Positive Labor Practices: A Guide to New Market Opportunities .................................... 15 Further Agricultural Labor Management Resources ....................... 16 Photo credit: Judith Redmond Photo credit: Judith RedmondCalifornia Institute for Rural Studies — www.cirsinc.org ◊ National Center for Appropriate Technology — www.ncat.org 2
  • 3. Positive Practices in Farm Labor ManagementKeeping Your Employees Happy and Your Production Profitable Do you want to improve working conditions on your The information is based on recent case-study research farm but . . . conducted by the California Institute for Rural Stud- . . . aren’t sure what’s most important to employees? ies, located in Davis, California. Interviews with . . . don’t think you can afford to? farmers, farm managers and over 100 employees on 12 farms throughout California have demonstrated that . . . don’t know where to start? positive working conditions for farm employees can, The 10 Positive Practices described in this handbook and often do, go hand-in-hand with healthy profits for will provide you with specific ideas and strategies to: farm businesses. • Improve employee satisfaction and retention • Increase productivity while reducing costs For more information about this study or handbook, • Improve access to markets seeking products from or for information about where to get technical farms with fair labor practices assistance to help you make changes on your farm, please contact: This handbook highlights a broad range of positive labor practices—including many that are no-cost or The California Institute for Rural Studies low-cost—that can help to improve worker satisfaction info@cirsinc.org and retention on your farm. Photo credit: Judith Redmond About ATTRA—the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service ATTRA offers hundreds of publications—many in Spanish—on organic and sustainable agriculture topics including marketing, crop production, processing, livestock, composting, ecological soil & pest management, farm energy, and agroforestry. All of these publications, including a list of all ATTRA materials, can be downloaded free of charge at ATTRA’s website, www.attra.ncat.org. Paper copies can be ordered by calling the toll-free telephone line, 800-346-9140; en español: 800-411-3222. ATTRA is a project of the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT). To learn more about NCAT, see page 16. About this Publication This handbook is based upon “Best Labor Practices on 12 California Farms: Toward a More Sustainable Food System” by R. Strochlic & K. Hammerschlag, published in 2006 by the California Institute for Rural Studies, www.cirsinc.org Nine of the farms in the study are certified organic, two are mixed conventional and organic, and one uses low-input sustainable agriculture practices. Eight are family-run medium-sized opera- tions, with fewer than 70 employees and annual revenues between $600,000 and $2.5 million. Four are larger, with labor forces ranging from 80 to 4,000 employees and revenues from $10 million upwards. The publication of this handbook is made possible by the generous support of the Columbia Foundation, the Western Center for Risk Management Education (WCRME), and the Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (WSARE).California Institute for Rural Studies — www.cirsinc.org ◊ National Center for Appropriate Technology — www.ncat.org 3
  • 4. Positive Practices in Farm Labor ManagementCreating a “Triple-Win” Situation for Farmers, Employeesand Agricultural Communities Strategies for how to imple- ment these practices fall intoHow do growers benefit low-cost, medium-cost and high- Photo credit: Judith Redmondfrom the practices identified cost categories. You’ll notice how many things you can do within this handbook? very little monetary investment!1. Increased retention and reduced training costs: One farmer, with Low-Cost Strategies a retention rate of approximately Respectful treatment 90%, estimates annual savings Regular acknowledgement and of approximately $20,000 to appreciation $30,000 as a result of reduced Free food from the farm training costs. Personal loans2. Reduced management costs: Ten Positive Farm Labor Policies and mechanisms for Motivated and committed em- communication and ployees require less supervision. Management Practices information sharing Farms with fewer foremen or Employees interviewed by CIRS in Clear grievance procedures managers can save thousands of 2006 identified the workplace con- Flexible work schedules dollars while increasing worker ditions they most value. This list is Safe and healthy work satisfaction. arranged in those employees’ order environment3. Improved product quality and of importance. Diversity of tasks better prices: A skilled, knowl- Allow social services to conduct 1. Respectful Treatment edgeable and committed work- on-farm outreach force translates to higher quality 2. Fair Compensation Celebrations, team-building and products. appreciation parties 3. Year-Round Employment4. Reduced accidents and lower 4. Traditional Benefits Medium-Cost Strategies workers’ compensation rates: 5. Non-Traditional Benefits Bonuses and profit-sharing Reduced pesticide exposure on sustainable and organic farms, Year-round employment 6. Safe and Healthy Workplace a slower pace of work, diver- Paid time off sity of tasks, and teamwork in 7. Direct Hiring & Recruitment Retirement plans lifting heavy items can reduce 8. Team-Based Management Educational assistance accidents, injuries, and workers’ Opportunities for training, skill Structures compensation costs. acquisition and professional5. A more stable, knowledgeable, 9. Open Communication and advancement and trustworthy workforce: Decision-Making Employees who feel respected, High-Cost Strategies 10. Opportunities for valued and trusted are more Higher wages likely to work harder and feel Professional Development Health insurance committed to the success of the and Advancement farm business. California Institute for Rural Studies — www.cirsinc.org ◊ National Center for Appropriate Technology — www.ncat.org 4
  • 5. Positive Practices in Farm Labor Management1. Respectful Treatment“Before, I worked with a contractor What are other farmers doing? Additional Information and Resourcesand I was treated badly. Here there One Northern California diversified • Ag Help Wanted (Chapters 4 & 6)are policies. No one says anything in farm has a “no-yell” policy. Supervi- by Rosenberg et al., 2002.a mean way. They say ‘please.’ That sors are not allowed to yell at anyone. www.aghelpwanted.orgmeans a lot. When you are happieryou work harder.” Farm-Level Benefits • Labor Management in Agriculture (Chapters 9 & 12) – Employee, Central California • Increased employee loyalty by G. Billikopf, 2003.What does this mean? • Higher retention rates www.cnr.berkeley.edu/ucce50/ag-Respectful treatment encompasses • Higher productivity labor/7labor/001.htma broad range of issues including • Low cost to implementpositive communication styles, • Increased employee loyalty anddirect grower-worker communica- satisfactiontions, a healthy work environment,and decision-making structuresthat recognize the contribution and “We come back here each year becausevalue of each employee. Many farm of the way people are treated,employees cite respectful treatmenton par with or higher than wages in even though the money is a little less.”terms of importance. – Employee, California North CoastHow do I implement this practice? Photo credit: Rex Dufour• Create and enforce policies about how employees are to be treated.• Provide formal training for supervisors and foremen about respectful communication styles.• Survey employees to find out what their needs are, both personal and professional.• Provide employees with a degree of freedom to take care of personal and family needs.• Check in with employees, inquire about their personal lives, etc. Show that you care about them as people. • Show regular appreciation for your employees. Celebrate birthdays, successful completion of projects or company goals. Even a simple thank you and personal recognition of a job well done goes a long way. It’s important to treat all employees with respect in every aspect of work.California Institute for Rural Studies — www.cirsinc.org ◊ National Center for Appropriate Technology — www.ncat.org 5
  • 6. Positive Practices in Farm Labor Management2. Fair Compensation “We work harder here because we Photo credit: Judith Redmond Farmworkers put theirknow that if the farm does well, we bodies at risk everydo well. At the end of the year, there day . They deserve fairare bonuses. In other places where I compensation for theworked, they don’t have bonuses.” difficult and valuable – Employee, Central Coast work they perform.What does this mean?Fair compensation rates a closesecond to respectful treatment interms of what is most important to How do I implement this practice? What are other farmers doing?farm employees. Farm businesses in • Ensure that your pay scales incor- One mid-sized diversified farmCalifornia typically spend 40-70% of porate both external equity (how provides seasonal and permanentcosts on employees and wages. While it compares to wages offered on employees with approximatelymost farmers would like to be able other farms) and internal equity $40,000 in profit sharing each year,to offer their employees a wage that (how employees are paid within the equivalent of 25 to 50 cents perprovides for the needs of an average the business). hour. Profits are distributed twice perfamily, this is not always possible. • Offer incentives at least once per year—during the harvest andHowever, when all forms of com- year. Some farms provide bonuses at the end of the year—as a meanspensation and benefits are taken into on employees’ birthdays or as a of thanking and incentivizingaccount—profit-sharing, bonuses, reward for staying through the employees.health insurance, retirement plans, end of the harvest.paid time off, housing assistance • Communicate clearly and consis- Farm-Level Benefitsand food from the farm—the total tently with employees about • Increased employee motivationvalue of compensation can increase how profit-sharing and bonuses • Higher productivitysignificantly. are calculated and how the farm • Profit-sharing is a risk manage- is faring financially to avoid ment strategy for growers.“We pay minimum wage and use adverse impacts on morale andthe bonus [profit-sharing] program satisfaction.to supplement that. That enables Additional Information and Resourcesus to protect ourselves in a bad year, • Account for cost-of-living • Employment Standards Admin-since once you raise the minimum increases when making wage istration, Department of Laborwage you can’t go back. It gives us adustments. (includes minimum wage stan-more flexibility.” • Create consistent pay levels based dards, workers’ compensation info, – Employer, Central Valley on skill and responsibility. Reward required posters, etc.) initiative whenever possible. www.dol.gov/esa • Ag Help Wanted (Chapter 5), by Piece Rate vs. Hourly Wages Rosenberg et al., 2002. While employees note that they can make more money per day www.aghelpwanted.org. with piece rate, they also note that piece work is short-term and • Labor Management in Agriculture generally followed by underemployment, so that total income (Ch. 7 & 8) by G. Billikopf, 2003. under the two systems is comparable. Farmers note that www.cnr.berkeley.edu/ucce50/ag- hourly wages usually result in higher quality work and fewer labor/7labor/001.htm accidents, although carefully designed piece-rate systems can have advantages for both employers and employees. California Institute for Rural Studies — www.cirsinc.org ◊ National Center for Appropriate Technology — www.ncat.org 6
  • 7. Positive Practices in Farm Labor Management3. Year-Round Employment“We provide year-round employ- What are other farmers doing? Additional Information and Resourcesment. That’s huge. It means that • ATTRA publication: • A Ventura County, Calif., farmour workers can live here with their “Season Extension Techniques plants 40 crops on 30 acres, fourfamilies. This is their community for Market Gardeners” times a year, creating year-roundnow. Families go to school here. Kids http://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/ work for 10 to 12 people and sea-learn English. They are part of the seasonext.html sonal work for an additional 15.community now.” – Employer, Sacramento Valley • A vineyard contracts with a • Check with your local Ag Ex- neighboring olive grove to provide tension office for ideas aboutWhat does this mean? diversifying your crop mix. employment during DecemberFarm employees identify year-round and January, when there is noemployment as one of the condi- • Publication from the work at the vineyard.tions they most value, after good University of Californiawages and respectful treatment. Farm-Level Benefits Sustainable AgricultureIn addition to a steady income Research and Education • Winter cropping schemes im- Program:and job security, year-round work prove market retentionenables employees to maintain a “How to stabilizestable family life, with benefits for • Increased revenue from added- your farm work force andtheir children and communities. A value products increase profits, productivity,permanent workforce is also good • Increased labor retention & personal satisfaction”for business. With increasing labor www.sarep.ucdavis.edu/pubs/pubs.htmshortages, growers have access to asteady supply of labor. High reten-tion rates keep recruitment and Photo credit: Judith Redmondtraining costs low, while year-roundproduction increases grower rev-enue.How do I implement this practice? • Diversify crop mix to allow for year-round production. • Contract with neighboring farms or other businesses to provide employment for work- ers when there is little work on your farm. • Hire field staff to help with maintenance and repairs during the winter. • Include value-added products that can be made and sold dur- ing the winter. Drivers from a Yolo County farm visit a school in Oakland to talk about the farm’s Com- munity Supported Agriculture program. The classroom teacher is on the left.California Institute for Rural Studies — www.cirsinc.org ◊ National Center for Appropriate Technology — www.ncat.org 7
  • 8. Positive Practices in Farm Labor Management4. Traditional Benef its“Housing has been a huge issue. by matching contributions (up to Farm-Level BenefitsIt’s a commitment of ours to help 5% of wages) made by employees. • Increased labor retentionfolks find housing. When anything • Flexible scheduling: Allow em-is available, we snap it up. We sign • Increased employee satisfaction ployees to take time off to takea lease. We make sure the rent gets and motivation care of personal and family needs.paid, even when there aren’t • Reduced workers’ compensationworkers there.” • Overtime pay: Provide overtime rates: Some insurance companies – Employer, Northern California after eight hours per day or 48 offer reduced rates if employees hours per week. have health insurance.What does this mean? What are other farmers doing?Traditional benefits include a broad Additional Information and Resources • Growers in Napa County,range of support mechanisms for • Ag Help Wanted: (Chapter 5), Calif. have instituted a $10/acreemployees such as health insurance, Rosenberg et al., 2002. self-assessment to help subsidizeretirement plans, paid time off, life www.aghelpwanted.org farmworker housing.insurance, and free or subsidized • Ventura County Ag Futureshousing. Farm employees rely on • The Ventura County Ag Futures Alliance Agricultural Alliance, a coalition of growersbenefits to supplement what they & other community members,earn by wages. Access to benefits Health Cooperative has been working to promote improved has a number of publicationscan greatly improve the health and describing their innovative effortswell-being of farm employees and access to health care for farm employees. Their health-care to improve worker access totheir families. health care and housing. “Ag initiative includes (1) promotingHow do I implement this practice? the adoption of workplace well- Worker Health Access: A Com-• Health Care: Provide some form ness policies and procedures, prehensive Local Solution,” of health insurance to all workers. (2) health education, (3) improv- VCAF Alliance Policy Paper #6: If costs are prohibitive, provide ing access to affordable health http://agfuturesalliance.org/ventura/ on-farm access to mobile clinics, insurance for employers, and ?c=Policy-Papers health screening and education (4) on-site health services at farms. • To find a migrant clinic in your programs, and referrals for local They promote increased access to area, search the website of the U.S. low-cost health care resources. health insurance by seeking group Health Resources & Services Ad-• Housing: Provide free or subsi- rates through the Western ministration (http://ask.hrsa.gov/pc) dized housing for employees. If Growers Association “Clinicas or consult the Migrant Clinician you can’t provide housing your- Plan,” which offers a low-cost Network’s directory of migrant self, then help workers locate monthly premium ($20-$40) for health centers and primary care local housing and negotiate rental farm employees and their families. associations: agreements, or provide housing http://agfuturesalliance.org/ventura www.migrantclinician.org/health stipends as a bonus. centers/healthcenterdirectory.php Photo credit: Rex Dufour• Paid time off: Offer paid vacation to employees working until the end of the year. Offer increasing It can be very helpful for employers—who amounts of paid time off for long- have local connections and are familiar term employees. with the regional housing market—to help employees find housing and negotiate• Retirement benefits: Encourage rental agreements. employees to save for retirement California Institute for Rural Studies — www.cirsinc.org ◊ National Center for Appropriate Technology — www.ncat.org 8
  • 9. Positive Practices in Farm Labor Management5. Non-Traditional Benef its“You can bring all the food home • Offer scholarships to support Additional Information and Resourcesthat you want. We are eating a lot of employees’ children who attend Contact these national organiza-vegetables. We all have more to eat.” college. tions to find resources in your – Employee, • Provide referrals for social services community: Central Coast, California or legal/immigration assistance. • Legal/Immigration Assistance— American Immigrant LawWhat does this mean? What are other farmers doing? Foundation: • A grower in Fresno County offers www.ailf.orgNon-traditional benefits include a each worker access to one acre of Immigrant Legal Resource Center:broad range of innovative strate- farmland that can be used for pro- www.ilrc.orggies to help employees and their ducing cash or subsistence crops. • Education—families. Due to language barriers,documentation status, and eco- National Association of State Di-nomic constraints, farm employees • A farmer in Ventura County rectors of Migrant Education:often don’t have access to, or don’t provides on-farm English classes for www.nasdme.org/index.htmlknow how to access, many of the employees in the evenings. National Migrant and Seasonalpublic services and institutions that Head Start Association:are available in our communities. Farm-Level Benefits www.nmshsa.orgEmployers can help to connect • Increased labor retentionemployees with valuable service pro- • Increased worker satisfaction andviders, or at times, provide some of motivationthose services themselves. Photo credit: Rex DufourHow do I implement this practice?• Encourage employees to take home food from the farm on a regular basis. Employees report improved diets for themselves and their fami- lies and significant cost savings.• Provide no-interest personal loans that employees can pay back through payroll deductions or retirement plans.• Allow social service agencies to conduct outreach on the farm. Pay employees for the time spent attending those sessions.• Contribute to community projects that support agricultural work- ers such as childcare centers and health clinics. On-farm educational sessions can help employees understand how businesses operate or• Provide education assistance for they can address some other common interest. work-related courses.California Institute for Rural Studies — www.cirsinc.org ◊ National Center for Appropriate Technology — www.ncat.org 9
  • 10. Positive Practices in Farm Labor Management6. Safe and Healthy Workplace“The highest and most important agement to reduce worker expo- Additional Information and Resourcesproduct of the farm is the workers’ sure to pesticides. • NIOSH (the National Institutehealth, safety and happiness.” for Occupational Health and – Employer, Central Valley, What are other farmers doing? Safety) includes on their website California A stone fruit farmer in the Central publications and training manu- Valley of California lowered the als relating to agricultural worker height of his trees to reduce em-What does this mean? ployee falls from ladders. In addi- health and safety:In addition to complying with http://cdc.gov/niosh/topics/ tion to reducing accidents, it also agriculture/SocialOSHA (the federal Occupational increased production and decreasedSafety and Health Administration), harvest time, resulting in reduced • Simple Solutions: Ergonomics forgrowers can institute practices that labor costs and increased revenues. Farmworkers, NIOSH publicationhelp protect the health of their No. 2001-111:employees. Farm-Level Benefits http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/01111pd.html • Reduced accidents and injuriesHow do I implement this practice? • Occupational Safety and Health • Reduced workers’ compensation• Diversify employee tasks through- costs. Some insurance companies Administration (OSHA): out the day to prevent chronic offer discounted workers comp http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/agri musculoskeletal injuries. See or crop insurance rates for grow- culturaloperations/index.html “Simple Solutions” ergonomics ers using organic or sustainable • Western Center for Agricultural publication for more ideas. practices. Health and Safety:• Limit hand weeding or stoop labor • Healthier, more satisfied workforce http://agcenter.ucdavis.edu to two hours a day.• Encourage teamwork. For exam- ple, ask employees to carry heavy “I like the fact that we always have help and support from items with co-workers to reduce our compañeros, especially in helping us lift heavy boxes. injuries. On other farms it isn’t like that.”• Make sure supervisors know to provide prompt and adequate - Female employee, Central Valley, California medical attention in the case of serious injuries. Photo credit: Rex Dufour• In addition to legally required trainings, reiterate safety messages to employees on a regular basis, or in monthly safety meetings, in or- der to reduce accidents and work- ers’ compensation costs. Make sure safety trainings are culturally appropriate, taking into account the diversity of languages and literacy skills among employees.• Adopt sustainable farming prac- tices such as Integrated Pest Man- Monthly safety meetings reduce accidents and workers’ compensation costs. California Institute for Rural Studies — www.cirsinc.org ◊ National Center for Appropriate Technology — www.ncat.org 10
  • 11. Positive Practices in Farm Labor Management7. Direct Hiring and Recruitment“Workers contracted by farm labor • Invest time into finding the right • Farm Labor Contracting,contractors (FLCs) have no loyalty person for the job to save time Agricultural Personnel Manage-to the farm… A farmer using the and money later. Use a systematic ment Program (contains sampleFLC system can’t really be good process to determine who to hire, contracts for growers and FLCs):to his workers either. He may pay including interviews, applications, http://are.berkeley.edu/APMP/pubs/a better wage, but the FLC may performance tests, and reference flc/farmlabor.htmlpocket that. The farmer also loses checks.control over work practices. You can • Labor Management in Agricul-have abuses going on, but you don’t What are other farmers doing? ture (Chapters 2 & 3), by G.have to be responsible for them. It’s A farm in the Central Valley of Billikopf, 2003:a good way for farmers to protect California negotiates above mini- www.cnr.berkeley.edu/ucce50/themselves from liability, but it is mum wage rates for workers em- ag-labor/7labor/001.htmnegative in most regards.” ployed by FLCs, provides safety and – Employer, Central Valley, Calif. quality training to FLC workers, uses its own supervisors to ensure If you do use a farm labor contractorWhat does this mean? high quality work and safe, respect- (FLC) . . .Roughly 1/5 of agricultural labor in ful conditions, and requests thethe U.S. (and 1/3 in California) are same FLC crew each year. • Seek out FLCs with goodhired through Farm Labor Con- reputations. Check references.tractors (FLCs). While FLCs can Farm-Level Benefits • Make sure the FLC is compli-alleviate some of the challenges, li- • Increased employee loyalty ant with state labor laws andabilities and costs of direct employ- • Higher quality work use a contract. See Resourcesment, growers who are interested in for templates.providing positive labor conditionsfor their employees have much less Additional Information and Resources • Provide training and oversight of FLC workers.control about how employees are • Ag Help Wanted (Chapter 3) bytreated and compensated. By prac- Rosenberg et al., 2002.ticing direct hiring and recruitment, http://agecon.uwyo.edu/aglabor/growers can have greater control FrameOnlineReferences.htmover product quality. Photo credit: Rex DufourHow do I implement this practice? • Recruit new employees via other farmworkers; this way your em- ployees may be related or from a similar region. Employers report that this results in a more cohe- sive workforce with less interper- sonal conflict.• Prepare written job descriptions for new positions. Recruitment, hiring and management will go more smoothly if everyone is clear about the duties the employee will Interviews are important in order to understand the experience and knowledge base of be responsible for. prospective employees. Performance tests are another way to ensure that employees have the skills you’re looking for.California Institute for Rural Studies — www.cirsinc.org ◊ National Center for Appropriate Technology — www.ncat.org 11
  • 12. Positive Practices in Farm Labor Management8. Team-Based Management Structures“We have leaders with a lot of ated. Formal performance ap- Additional Information and Resourcesresponsibility, but we don’t call them praisals should give employees aforemen or mayordomos. We make • Ag Help Wanted (Chapter 4) by chance to evaluate themselves,sure their authority is limited…We Rosenberg et al., 2002: their successes, and areas for imencourage team management.We http://agecon.uwyo.edu/aglabor/ provement.look for people who don’t want to FrameOnlineReferences.htmbe authoritarian, who can organize • Resolve conflicts promptly using • Labor Management in Agriculturepeople, foster cooperative work, and a mediational, rather than au- (Ch. 9) by G. Billikopf, 2003:minimize conflict. We try to cooper- thoritarian, approach. www.cnr.berkeley.edu/ucce50/ate, not dominate.” ag-labor/7labor/001.htm Farm-Level Benefits - Employer, Central California • Reduced supervision costs • Party-Directed Mediation: Help-What does this mean? • Increased employee investment ing Others Resolve Differences, and commitment to the farm by G.t Billikopf, 2004:Many growers have found that a www.cnr.berkeley.edu/ucce50/ag-democratic, team-based approach • Higher quality work labor/7conflictto management and supervision cansuccessfully motivate employees andresult in significant cost savings. “They (the management) trust us. They don’t stand over us all the time. They tell us what is needed and we do it. They’ve seenHow do I implement this practice? that as they trust us more, there is improvement in production,• Instead of foremen, utilize team in both quality and quantity.” leaders to help provide guidance – Farm Employee and motivation while working alongside other employees. Photo credit: Rex Dufour• Practice the MBWA management style – “management by walking around.”• Communicate directly with employees on a daily basis. If pos- sible, learn to speak with them in their own language.• Encourage collaboration between employees, allowing workers to help one another and train new employees.• Define specific roles for each employee and let them know how their performance will be evalu- Employees can teach each other how the business works. In the process, everyone learns leadership, responsibility and cooperation. California Institute for Rural Studies — www.cirsinc.org ◊ National Center for Appropriate Technology — www.ncat.org 12
  • 13. Positive Practices in Farm Labor Management9. Open Communication and Decision Making“Here we have meetings and the handbooks. Make sure they are • Reduced incidence of employeepatrón informs us about what is translated. dissatisfactionhappening on the farm. He takes us • Conduct employee surveys tointo account. He asks our opinion Additional Information and Resources identify worker concerns andabout things.” Easily create an employee hand- obtain direct feedback about - Employee, Central Coast, Calif. book using any of these resources: work-related issues. • The USDA Forest Service Em-What does this mean? What are other farmers doing? ployee Handbook Template:There are a range of practices that www.na.fs.fed.us/wihispanic/De-foster good communication be- A vineyard holds an annual meet- ing for its business partners, inves- fault.htmtween employers and employees.Some, such as safety meetings, em- tors and employees. All permanent • Labor Management in Agricul-ployee orientations and employee and seasonal employees are paid to ture (Chapter 17) by G. Bil-handbooks, are focused on commu- attend the meeting, and a Spanish likopf, 2003:nicating information and expec- interpreter is provided. www.cnr.berkeley.edu/ucce50/ag-tations. Others, such as regular labor/7labor/001.htmmeetings and grievance procedures, Farm-Level Benefits • Ag Help Wanted, by Rosenbergprovide opportunities for worker • Valuable input and information et. al., 2002. See Chapter 6 forrepresentation and participation in from employees to strengthen links to employee handbookdecision-making processes. the farm operation software and templates: • Increased sense of employee http://agecon.uwyo.edu/aglabor/How do I implement this practice? loyalty and investment in FrameBookContents.htm • Hold regular staff meetings the farm with employees to discuss im- portant topics such as produc- Photo credit: Rex Dufour tion tasks, personnel conflicts, or safety concerns. • Encourage employee feedback and ideas about workplace practices and production issues. • Provide formal orientations for new employees about benefits, job expectations, and workplace policies. Update all employees regularly about changes to ben- efits or compensation packages. • Institute formal grievance pro- cedures, making sure employees know they can freely approach team leaders or higher manage- ment with problems. • Codify workplace policies and Regular staff meetings with employees provide a place to discuss production tasks, practices in written employee personnel conflicts, and safety concerns.California Institute for Rural Studies — www.cirsinc.org ◊ National Center for Appropriate Technology — www.ncat.org 13
  • 14. Positive Practices in Farm Labor Management10. Opportunities for Professional Development and Advancement“Here they give lots of opportuni- • Encourage attendance at local would enable them to performties for advancement. I started as a trainings and conferences, many more highly skilled tasks such asharvester and now I run machinery. of which have Spanish-language equipment handling or pesticideThey help you get the training and tracks. safety training.licenses to operate machinery. I • Provide supervisory manage- • Provide opportunities for formalhave more motivation now. I want ment training to workers who are educational advancement at localto keep moving up.” promoted to supervisory roles. Be community colleges. – Employee, Central Valley Farm sensitive to conflicts of interest that may arise when workers are responsible for managing friends Farm-level BenefitsWhat does this mean? and family members. • Increased retention of motivatedMany employees express apprecia- • Provide opportunities for employ- and talented employees.tion for opportunities to broaden ees to gain legal certifications thattheir skills or advance into different • Skilled and trained employeespositions on the farm. Diversified ensure higher product quality.cropping systems lead to a greatervariety of tasks for workers, who en-joy learning about different aspects Additional Information and Resourcesof the farm operation. Growers canprovide formal and informal op- • Labor Management in Agricultureportunities for employees to gain (Ch. 4 & 5), G. Billikopf, 2003.new technical or managerial skills www.cnr.berkeley.edu/ucce50/ag-through on-the-job training, formal labor/7labor/001.htmeducation, or attendance at confer- • Contact your local agriculturalences and workshops. commissioner office to find out about certification trainings.How do I implement this practice? • Contact your local cooperative extension for information about• Encourage & reward employee upcoming agricultural conferenc- initiative to develop skills and take es and workshops in your area. on new responsibilities.• Create a transparent system of pay raises that rewards workers for each season they complete (steps) and clearly defined higher levels of responsibility (grades).• Expose employees to different aspects of the farm operation. California Institute for Rural Studies — www.cirsinc.org ◊ National Center for Appropriate Technology — www.ncat.org 14
  • 15. Positive Practices in Farm Labor ManagementAdding Value to Your Products with Positive Labor PracticesA Guide to New Market Opportunities Improving compensation and benefits for your agricultur- trend by setting standards throughout their supply chains al employees can be economically challenging. However, that incorporate fair farm labor practices. Producers are new market-based opportunities are emerging that may differentiating themselves by advertising their responsi- help you offset the costs associated with improving work- ble labor practices either directly to consumers or through ing conditions for your employees. certification and labeling programs. Many consumers today are looking to buy products from Below are several examples of U.S.-based programs that businesses that demonstrate social responsibility. Food support and/or certify growers who cultivate positive retailers and restaurant chains have responded to this labor management practices.Food Alliance social responsibility standards, a Lodi Ruleswww.foodalliance.org/ Fair Labor Practices and Commu- www.lodiwine.com/lodirules_home1. nity Benefits label, and the Veriflora shtmlFood Alliance is a nonprofit, third- label for the floral industry.party certification program that The Lodi Rules are sustainablepromotes sustainable agriculture. winegrowing standards that are be- The Agricultural Justice Project (AJP) ing implemented on a regionwide www.cata-farmworkers.org/ajp basis. The Rules originated in 2001National Sustainable AgricultureStandard (DRAFT) The AJP is a collaboration of orga- with grower-members of the Lodi- nizations that has developed a set of Woodbridge Winegrape Commis-www.leonardoacademy.org/Projects/ social justice standards for organic sion. Participating growers can getSustainAgStdDevelopment.htm and sustainable agriculture. In the their vineyards certified as produc-Formal proceedings to establish the summer of 2006, AJP and the Local ing sustainably grown wine grapes.first national standard for sustain- Fair Trade Network in Minneapolis The program is certified by a thirdable agriculture were launched in launched a Domestic Fair Trade party—the nonprofit organizationOctober 2007. Stakeholders are label based on the AJP standards. Protected Harvest.invited to shape the standard in acollaborative process governed bythe American National Standards Socially Accountable Farm California Sustainable WinegrowingInstitute (ANSI). Employers (SAFE) Alliance (CSWA) www.safeagemployer.org www.sustainablewinegrowing.orgScientific Certification Systems SAFE is a nonprofit organization The CSWA has an online Code that provides independent auditing of Sustainable Winegrowing Prac-www.scscertified.com and certification of fair, lawful farm tices workbook that translatesSCS is a third-party provider of cer- labor practices in the agriculture sustainability principles into specifictification services offering numerous industry. winegrowing and winemaking prac-certification programs including tices, including labor management and community responsibility. California Institute for Rural Studies — www.cirsinc.org ◊ National Center for Appropriate Technology — www.ncat.org 15
  • 16. Positive Practices in Farm Labor Management Further Agricultural Labor Management ResourcesAg Help Wanted: Agricultural Personnel Positive Practices inGuidelines for Managing Management Program Farm Labor Management was produced by CIRS and NCAT.Agricultural Labor University of California, Berkeley © CIRS 2008.By H. Rosenberg, R. Carkner, J. Hewlett, www.apmp.berkeley.eduL. Owen, T. Teegerstrom, J. Tranel, and ATTRA #IP324, Slot 318.R. Wegel. 2002. This is an information center This publication is available on thewww.aghelpwanted.org on farm employment, manage- ATTRA website: www.attra.ncat.org. ment, and related policy issues. To download it for free, go to:This book is available at no cost www.attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/PDF/positive_labor.pdfonline and contains numerous links Dr. Vera Bitsch To access it online, go to:to further resources. Agricultural Economics & www.attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/positive_labor.html Agribusiness Management California Institute for Rural StudiesAgricultural Labor Management Michigan State University is a nonprofit research organization thatUniversity of California www.msu.edu/~bitsch works toward a rural California that iswww.cnr.berkeley.edu/ucce50/ag-labor socially just, economically balanced, News and information aboutDeveloped by Gregorio Billikopf, and environmentally sustainable. In labor laws and labor manage- keeping with a public-service ap-this site offers downloadable books, ment are found on this site. proach to research, CIRS disseminatesresearch papers, articles, audio semi- its research findings to policy makers,nars, electronic discussion groups, Farm Employers Labor Service stakeholder organizations, and theand other resources about agricul- www.fels.org general public.tural labor management in Englishand Spanish. Labor Management in Here are resources about com- California Institute for Rural Studies plying with labor laws and effec- 221 G Street, Suite 204Agriculture: Cultivating Personnel tively managing labor relations. Davis, CA 95616Productivity (2003), by G. Billikopf, 530-756-6555, www.cirsinc.orgis available to download at no cost. Farmworker Institute for The National Center for Appropri-Agricultural Labor Management Education and Leadership ate Technology is a private nonprofitUniversity of Vermont Development (FIELD) organization that since 1976 has helped www.farmworkerinstitute.org people by championing small-scale,www.uvm.edu/~farmlabr/ local and sustainable solutions toThe University compiles this infor- This nonprofit offers education reduce poverty, promote healthymation about labor management and employment training for communities, and protect naturalfor agricultural producers. agricultural employees. resources. ATTRA—the National Sustainable Agriculture InformationAg Manager Info How to Stabilize Your Farm Work Service—is a project of NCAT, funded through the USDA Rural Business-Kansas State University Force and Increase Profits, Produc- Cooperative Service.www.agmanager.info tivity, and Personal Satisfaction ATTRA / NCAT California OfficeThis site provides useful informa- By Suzanne Vaupel, Gary Johnston, PO Box 2218; Davis, CA 95617 Franz Kegel, Melissa Cadet, andtion and tools for agricultural Gregory Billikopf. 1995. 530-792-7338; 1-800-346-9140employers and managers. www.sarep.ucdavis.edu/pubs/pubs.htm www.attra.ncat.org Front Cover: The top left and bottom right photographs were taken at the Agriculture & Land-Based Training Association (ALBA— www.albafarmers.org) in Salinas, California by Rex Dufour, NCAT California Regional Office Director. The top right and bottom left photographs were taken at Full Belly Farm (www.fullbellyfarm.com) in Guinda, California by farmer Judith Redmond. California Institute for Rural Studies — www.cirsinc.org ◊ National Center for Appropriate Technology — www.ncat.org 16