Photo: The Boscovich family, Company owners (Source: Boscovich Farms)
By Serran Soledad
Tribune of the People interviewed a worker correspondent from Boskovich Farms about conditions at the agricultural company’s Oxnard, California facility, where workers have been denied sick pay in the wake of multiple Covid-19 outbreaks throughout the 2020 work year.
Boskovich Farms earns an annual revenue of $30 million and is advertised as an organic and environmentally sustainable producer of fruits and vegetables, with 15,000 acres throughout California, Arizona, and Mexico. Despite their high revenue, the agricultural producer and Employers Depot Incorporated (EDI), a temp agency based in Ventura, California which contracts many of the workers at Boskovich, continue to deny sick pay to those who’ve tested positive for Covid-19 at their Oxnard farm and production factory.
“Depending on what’s your situation with Covid, they actually will not pay the workers, but will make them take unpaid leave,” said the worker.
The company’s intolerant policy has forced workers at Boskovich Farms to choose between their income or their health and the health of those around them. Our correspondent estimates over 100 positive cases occurred as a result of the outbreaks in 2020.
“People who tested positive for Covid-19, [EDI] would ask them who they were around but they didn’t want to say, because they were scared that person was gonna get sent home too, and they weren’t gonna get paid either. So they kind of keep it to themselves and that would slowly cause another outbreak.”
By employing through EDI (which also function under the name Workforce Systems), Boskovich Farms can utilize an undocumented labor force while circumventing blame for the lack of Covid-19 relief, malicious firing practices, low wages, and unsafe conditions.
Our worker correspondent said, “The reason [Boskovich] don’t want to put an influence in or put their foot down is because [EDI] are one of the only two agencies left out there that will hire undocumented workers.” EDI has been known to utilize various legal loopholes in order to deny relief to workers at Boskovich Farms who may otherwise qualify.
The worker correspondent added, “They spoke about some trumping rule that if they send you home before your medical provider says you have to stay quarantined for 2 weeks, they don’t have to pay you whatsoever. And if you try to force the money out of them they will tell you to go ahead and file for unemployment. And those who don’t have legal status in the country can’t do so, and if they keep pushing they’ll just get rid of them.”
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