The United Farm Workers announced Monday it filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board alleging the operator of a Wasco nut processing plant illegally retaliated against workers for speaking out about what they called inadequate workplace protections against COVID-19.

The labor union said most workers who raised concerns about Primex Farms LLC's pandemic response, including many who participated in a recent one-day strike against the company, lost their jobs when the plant ended its relationship with the employment agency they worked for, USA Staffing Inc.

Primex said through an outside spokesman it has not retaliated against any of its employees and that it's aware of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act.

"These are all false allegations by the UFW," spokesman Jesse Rojas said by email. "All of the mentioned cuts in personnel are typical changes during the season and based in production, like any other previous year."

USA Staffing, also known as United Staffing Associates LLC, didn't reply to a request for comment Monday.

Dozens of workers at the processing plant have tested positive for coronavirus and one has died from the disease.

COVID-19 outbreaks among Central Valley farmworkers has recently become a focus for state officials. Earlier this summer the state Attorney General's Office launched an investigation into whether ag employers were doing enough to shield their workers from the disease.

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(1) comment

RubySue

Nothing mentioned about employee activities outside the workplace that may contribute to Covid-19 exposure. It seems unlikely that the only place they could be exposed to the virus is at work.

Welcome to the discussion.

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