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U.S. SUGAR'S CANE CUTTERS' EARNINGS INCREASE; LABOR ADVOCATES PRAISE COMPANY'S LABOR RELATIONS

 CLEWISTON, Fla., April 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Labor Peace at U.S. Sugar Corporation during the recently completed sugar cane harvest season was declared an "unqualified success" by the Company and Florida's top labor advocate organization.
 "Workers earned more money than ever before and labor relations were the best in the industry," said Rob Williams, attorney for Florida Rural Legal Services. "We are very happy that the agreement put into place between U.S. Sugar and farmworker advocate organizations last year has achieved everything we hoped it would do. Both the company and the workers have benefited from our excellent relationship."
 Sugar cane cutters at U.S. Sugar received an increase in average earnings this season as a result of a new pay plan which was part of the Labor Peace announced in September 1992 between the company and Florida Rural Legal Services and the Farmworker Justice Fund. The agreement also provided a framework for solving labor disputes and, hopefully, preventing future lawsuits.
 The average cane cutter earned about $48 per day, up from approximately $42 per day the previous harvest season. Average hourly earnings were $7.24 for the season compared with Workers seemed to be pleased with the system, as worker efficiency also increased this season, resulting in a positive result for both workers and the company.
 The 2,100 primarily Jamaican farm workers come to U.S. Sugar for five months each year to help harvest the sugar cane crop under the H-2A Farmworker Program. In addition, more than 100 U.S. residents cut cane for U.S. Sugar this season. Cane cutters are now paid by the ton of sugar cane they cut averaged by field and crew, a new pay system recommended and endorsed by farmworker advocate groups. Additionally, the Federal government requires that workers receive a minimum w guarantee of $5.91 per hour. Top cutters at U.S. Sugar this year earned more than $11.00 per hour. Additionally, all H-2A workers receive free housing and transportation and three meals a day at a subsidized cost.
 "We are very pleased with the results of significantly improved labor relations at U.S. Sugar," said Williams. "We had virtually no problems. Some workers took a little time to become adjusted to the new pay system, but it
functioned as well as we had hoped. While cutting cane remains one of the most difficult jobs in agriculture, the workers of U.S. Sugar are able to earn
significantly more per hour than the average farmworker nationwide. The higher wages, together with company housing that is among the best we have seen, and management's responsiveness to workers' concerns, makes U.S. Sugar a model for the agricultural industry."
 "Labor Peace has been a tremendous success for everyone," said U.S. Sugar President J. Nelson Fairbanks. "It has changed the relationship between workers and the company. The communications and cooperation we are experiencing among workers and the advocates has brought about mutual trust and respect and has taken the tension out of labor- management relations."
 The improved working relationships are the result of an unprecedented move by U.S. Sugar last fall when it announced an agreement between the company and the nation's leading farmworker advocate organizations for a broad-based labor peace plan which would resolve labor issues now and in the future without litigation. The plan, among other things, established a new method of paying workers and a new dispute resolution procedure.
 At the time of the Labor Peace announcement last year, Rob Williams of Florida Rural Legal Services said: "U.S. Sugar has during the previous year made major reforms, including providing access to its farm labor housing so that Florida Rural Legal Services outreach workers could talk to the sugar cane cutters about their working conditions. Where problems have been found, t to resolve them without litigation. We believe any future problems can be solved in the same spirit of cooperation and understanding. . .Based on what U.S. Sugar has done, we believe it is possible to have an H-2A program that treats workers fairly and with dignity. The management of the company is to be commended for taking these steps which reaffirm U.S. Sugar's historical leadership in the industry."
 -0- 4/27/93
 /CONTACT: Sylvia Walters of U.S. Sugar Corporation, 813-983-8121/


CO: U.S. Sugar Corporation ST: Florida IN: AGR SU:

AW -- FL004 -- 1258 04/27/93 10:47 EDT
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Date:Apr 27, 1993
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