MOORPARK : Muranaka Laborers Preparing for Strike

Union officials representing laborers at Moorpark's Muranaka Farms say a strike is imminent because of delays in negotiating a new contract.

The union is demanding salary increases and health coverage for Muranaka workers, who have been without a contract since 1992, official Mario Brito said Tuesday.

To prepare for the strike, donated food was distributed to 150 field and packinghouse workers Friday by the local chapter of the United Farm Workers, Brito said.

The union has also begun passing out flyers written in Spanish and English to workers and others who might be hired by Muranaka to fill jobs during a walkout, he said. "We're asking for their support, and we're asking that they not break the strike," Brito said. "The flyer says this should be a time for solidarity."

Fed up with delays in negotiating a contract, the workers recently voted for a strike. The negotiations have been delayed most recently by a lengthy vacation by Muranaka's lawyer, who is out of the country until Oct. 18, Brito said.

If the workers strike, it would be the first that United Farm Workers have struck in Ventura County since 1983, when laborers at Muranaka walked out over the issue of union representation.

This time, workers have demonstrated outside the company's Moorpark packinghouse.

Muranaka farms about 450 acres in Ventura County, company representatives said.

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