Wines & Vines Home
   
 
Welcome Guest
LOGIN |  CREATE ACCOUNT
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 
 
07.14.2014  
 

Labor Department Fines Vineyard Contractor

Wente agrees to monitor labor contractor that must restore $24,000 back pay

 
by Jane Firstenfeld
 
 
“vineyard
 
Wente Vineyards worked with the U.S. Department of Labor to resolve complaints against one of its labor contractors.
San Francisco, Calif.—Many wineries in California and throughout the United States use the services of agricultural labor contractors that bring in immigrant or migrant employees to work during peak seasons. Despite the moving target of U.S. immigration policy, these contractors operate under the regulation of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). If laws protecting employees are not upheld, wineries can also become party to regulatory action.

Last week, Wines & Vines received a notice from Jose Carnevali, deputy regional director of public affairs at the USDA’s San Francisco office, which cast light on a recent event and its resolution.

“The Wage and Hour Division in San Francisco has secured an enhanced compliance agreement with a large grower and distributor of wine grapes in Northern California's Livermore Valley region. The agreement follows an investigation of Wente Vineyards’ farm labor contractor Abel Mendoza that found wage and transportation violations under the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act. Because of the severity of the findings, Wente Vineyards worked collaboratively with the division in putting together a solid compliance plan to prevent further violations of applicable agriculture labor laws by the company’s farm labor contractors.”

We spoke with Carnevali and Alberto Raymond, assistant district director for the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division, to learn how the contractor violated regulations, and how they will be avoided in the future. Raymond oversees enforcement in 13 Northern California counties from Monterey to the Oregon border. Although he could not provide specifics or a link to the Wente settlement, he explained DOL’s mission and procedures.

DOL enforcement is based on in-the-field inspections. “We are, as an office, very proactive in enforcing several laws. We are constantly out in agricultural counties monitoring employee wages and hours. We recognize that the wine and grape industry is growing. The mission of our organization is to enforce laws to protect workers—particularly low-wage workers who may not know their rights. We pick industries where employees are vulnerable.” Raymond said.

This was a case involving joint employment, he explained. “Our process is to go out to the field, talk to the employer, interview workers, inspect vehicles and housing, when applicable.” In this case, “We conducted investigation of the farmer (Wente) and then the contractor (Mendoza).” Raymond received the final agreement signed by Wente and the DOL on July 8. Wente Vineyards produces some 700,000 cases annually from its 3,000 acres of vineyards.

“The truth of the matter is that Wente should be recognized for stepping up and forming this agreement. Wente is assuming responsibility for its labor contractors. Wente will conduct routine inspections and … they will demand evidence of the contractors’ certification of registration (with DOL),” Raymond said.

The settlement came as something of a surprise to the DOL official. “We don’t run into this often,” Raymond acknowledged.

What’s the deal?
Wente has agreed to review wage statements and time records, crosscheck these every calendar month and provide their findings to the DOL. The winery will also request evidence that drivers who transport laborers to its worksites hold valid drivers licenses.

In return, the DOL will provide a foreperson at Wente facilities who will help conduct training in the operations. From start to finish, the entire process took only “a couple of months,” Raymond said.

Contractor Mendoza, who has, Raymond said, been working for Wente for more than 20 years, providing crews of as many as 170, has also agreed to comply with the agreement. “Mendoza will have to pay back pay and penalties.” Mendoza has agreed to pay $24,000 in back pay, according to Raymond.

“In this partnership, Wente agrees to let us know of any serious issues with other contractors, and will report any activities they are made aware of,” Raymond said. “We want compliance, and they want compliance.”

Raymond shared his bottom line: “The DOL and our team of investigators want to make sure that the riches of the industry truly trickles down to those picking the grapes.”

For more details about the DOL policies and mission, see the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (MSPA); Wages and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and H-2A Temporary Agricultural Employment of Foreign Workers

Wente issued a statement through its spokesman, Paul Wagner at Balzac Communications. “Wente Family Estates is pleased to have played a constructive role in the resolution of this issue.”

Abel Mendoza did not respond to our requests for comment.

SHARE »
Close
 
Currently no comments posted for this article.
 
CURRENT NEWS INDEX »


 
Wines & Vines Home
 
866.453.9701 | 415.453.9700 | Fax: 415.453.2517
65 Mitchell Blvd., Ste. A San Rafael, CA 94903
info@winesandvines.com
Wine Industry Metrics
 
Off-Premise Sales » Month   12 Months  
September 2014 $575 million
5%
$7,743 million
6%
September 2013 $550 million $7,311 million
     
Direct-to-Consumer Shipments » Month   12 Months  
September 2014 $163 million
16%
$1,708 million
11%
September 2013 $141 million $1,538 million
     
Winery Job Index » Month   12 Months  
September 2014 166
14%
226
18%
September 2013 145 192
     
 
MORE » Released on 10.15.2014
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Practical Winery & Vineyard Library
 
Search the PWV archive »
 
 

Direct To Consumer
Wine Shipping Report
2014
 
Download full report »
 
 

CALENDAR
  • October 26
     
    Pinot on the River
     
  • November 1-2
     
    Temecula Harvest Celebration Barrel Tasting
     
  • November 5
     
    Single Vineyard Night
     
  • November 5-6
     
    Southeastern United Wine & Grape Symposium
     
  • MORE »
 

READER COMMENTS
 
Article: The 'Sideways' Effect »
 
Thank you for this research that confirms what many thought about the pinot noir effect....
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Fine for Volunteer Labor Makes Wineries Wary »
 
This is so incredibly asinine. And my taxes go to help fund these over-reaches? No...
Reader: Philburtonj
 
Article: Paso Winegrowers Back on TTB Track »
 
Unfortunately, they will be named Drought sinkhole #1, #2, #3, etc. Really, 11 different flavor profiles...
Reader: Donn Rutkoff
 
Article: Optimization of limited water resources in irrigated vineyards »
 
Very interesting article! Sap flow monitoring was in the past mostly used for research but...
Reader: Virginie Scoarnec
 
Article: New York OKs Out-of-State Grapes »
 
If the resultant wine, using out of state juice,bears the "American" on the label, I...
Reader: Guest
 
 


Directory/Buyer's Guide — Your Wine Industry Marketplace
 
 
WINERY SEARCH
 
 
Advanced Search »
SUPPLIER SEARCH
   by Product
 by Company Name or Brand
 
Browse by Category »
2015 Directory/Buyer's Guide
The Wines & Vines Directory and Buyer's Guide
 
 
EXPANDED ONLINE SEARCH INCLUDED WITH PURCHASE
 
ORDER NOW »
 
LEARN MORE »
 
 
Wines & Vines Magazine
 
 
LEARN MORE »
 
SUBSCRIBE »
 
Digital Edition Now Available!
Wines & Vines Digital Edition Now Available
 
LEARN MORE »
 
ORDER NOW »
 
 
The Wines & Vines Online Marketing System
 
The Industry Standard winery marketing application
 
FREE LIVE DEMO »
 
VIEW VIDEO »
 
 
 
 
Latest Job Listings
 National Sales Manager
 New York, NY
Sales and Marketing
 Assistant Tasting Room...
 Oakville, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Marketing And Promotio...
 St. Helena, CA
General Administration and
 Sales Representative
 New York City, NY
Sales and Marketing
 Inside Sales Represent...
 Rutherford, CA
Sales and Marketing
 Los Alamos Boss
 Santa Barbara, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Sales Rep - On Premise...
 Toronto, ON
Sales and Marketing
 Marketing Coordinator
 Napa, CA
Sales and Marketing
 On-Premise Account Man...
 Clifton, NJ
Sales and Marketing
 Sales Support & Jr Sal...
 Scarsdale, NY
Sales and Marketing
 
More Job Listings >>
Follow Us On:
 
 





Home  |  About Us  |  Editors  |  Subscribe  |  Print Edition  |  Digital Edition

Advertise  |  Site Map  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy
 
 
Copyright © 2001-2014 by Wine Communications Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
No material may be reproduced without written permission of the Publisher.
Wines&Vines does not assume any responsibility for any unsolicited manuscripts or materials.