City business

The Sacramento City Council is almost—but not quite—ready to jump into the fight between Blue Diamond and the Longshoremen.

At last Thursday’s city council meeting, Mayor Heather Fargo shelved talk on a resolution asking management of the Sacramento-based almond distributor, Blue Diamond Growers, to remain neutral amidst ongoing organizing efforts by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. But she and council member Steve Cohn are planning to meet with Blue Diamond in the weeks to come.

Blue Diamond management has opposed the ILWU’s organizing efforts and wants an immediate secret election by workers to determine if there will be a union. ILWU organizer Agustin Ramirez claims a fair election would be impossible under current circumstances.

Late last month, the National Labor Relations Board accused the company of illegally firing one worker and disciplining another for supporting union efforts. Last spring, the NLRB found Blue Diamond guilty of several labor-law violations while trying to stop the union.

At the request of the ILWU, Cohn and fellow council member Kevin McCarty introduced the resolution at last Thursday’s meeting. Council member Robbie Waters was opposed, saying the city shouldn’t interfere in the labor dispute. But Ramirez told SN&R, “There’s no way you can make this binding. This is just a symbolic resolution.”

In 1995, the Sacramento city council gave Blue Diamond Growers $21 million to remain in Sacramento and maintain a workforce of 700 full-time jobs until 2010.

“With our taxpayer dollars, they are just violating the law and employees’ rights. And that just doesn’t sit well with me,” McCarty said Blue Diamond spokesperson Susan Brauner reiterated her company’s desire for a secret election, and said she hadn’t heard of possible meetings with Cohn and Fargo. “Our door is open to any city council member. We have an ongoing dialogue with the city council,” Brauner added.