Flower Disempowerment

Michael Marsh of with California Rural Legal Assistance, the attorney representing Rocket Farms workers, says the company has unfairly paid flower arrangers as if they’re field workers.

The nation’s largest flower and herb grower has been underpaying its workers, according to a lawsuit.

Rocket Farms has allegedly been paying floral arrangers and packers as if they were farm workers, meaning the employer has skirted overtime and lunch-break wage rules.

The plaintiffs are current and former employees who packed and wrapped poinsettias and orchids in one of Rocket Farms’ three local facilities. The company employs more than 1,000 people at 15 locations, including two in Salinas and one in Watsonville.

Margarita Marquez and two others sued in October, seeking overtime pay for shifts longer than eight hours. (Field workers are entitled to overtime pay only after 10.) In December, Rocket Farms and labor contractor Nor-West allegedly offered Marquez and other workers some overtime pay.

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“They bought off my client,” says attorney Michael Marsh of California Rural Legal Assistance. He filed an expanded complaint for 22 plaintiffs on March 11.

Rocket Farms’ attorney, Charley Stoll, denies the allegations by email: “Rocket Farms strives to comply with all labor laws.”

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Sara Rubin loves long public meetings, red pens and reading (on newsprint). She has been editor of the Monterey County Weekly since 2016, and has been on staff since 2010.

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