Farm workers will get $13 million

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- In a major victory for farm workers, a federal judge has ruled that one of California's largest vegetable producers must reimburse laborers for thousands of hours spent traveling on company vans to and from the crops they picked.

D'Arrigo Brothers Co. could end up owing $13 million or more in back wages and penalties to more than 3,000 laborers, according to a March 16 summary judgment by U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel of San Jose. Fogel will determine exactly how much money the Salinas-based agricultural giant owes after April 5, the deadline for both sides to submit time sheets and other data.

Paul Strauss, a partner at Chicago-based Miner Barnhill &; Galland, which represented D'Arrigo workers, said the judgment sends a message to agriculture companies that treat field hands paternalistically.

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