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Chiquita Banana Workers Strike

August 8, 2002

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SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP) _ More than 350 Chiquita banana workers have walked off the job, claiming that new fruit-quality standards used by the company deprive workers of bonuses.

Union leader Daniel Gutierrez said Wednesday that the Cincinnati-based fruit giant signed a labor agreement last month pledging to pay its workers a bonus for each bunch of bananas they harvested.

But he said that the company then imposed a new system of judging banana quality that has allowed it to get out of paying bonuses for hundreds of bunches that workers have already harvested.

Gutierrez said the workers walked off the job earlier this week and will not return to work until dozens of workers receive bonuses.

Enrique Vazquez, a vice president of Chiquita’s Costa Rica operations, said the strike was illegal under a labor agreement both sides signed in July. He said that the company would consider firing striking workers.

Vazquez said the problem stems from a small group of workers who harvested bunches of sub-par bananas and then demanded bonuses.

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