Good Fruit Grower

May 1

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14 MAY 1, 2015 Good Fruit Grower F arm supervisors play an increasingly important role in the recruitment and retention of workers as the labor pool shrinks, says Rick Anderson, corporate administrator for Sakuma Brothers Farms in Burlington, Washington. "Your crew leaders or supervisors could be your best salesman to attract workers, or they could be your worst ones," he told employers during the Washington Farm Labor Association's annual labor conference in Wenatchee. "We're finding it difficult not only to find work- ers, but managers and supervisors who can work well in our operation and treat workers fairly and with dignity and respect, and be able to communi- cate with them," he said. Supervisors need to understand company poli- cies, what the wages are, how the piece rate works, and what the benefits are, he said. They need the personnel skills to resolve con- flicts, and they need to be able to handle disci- plinary procedures, regulatory compliance, and discrimination issues. If there are labor activities coming into the oper- ation, the supervisors have to know what they can and can't say. Anderson said supervisors and managers have to realize it's not business as usual any more, particularly when there's a labor shortage. We do have to change. It's not like the old school way of dealing with people." Sakuma Brothers would ideally hire 450 people to harvest its berries, but last year was at least 100 people short over the whole season. Anderson asked the 200 people at the conference Make sure workers are happy Labor Supervisors must treat them with dignity and respect. by Geraldine Warner Troy Frostad Julie Loreth Rick Anderson Distinguished The essential resource. Associate Editor Richard Lehnert earned Michigan State University's Distinguished Service Award for his years of work informing growers about scienti c advancements.

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