EDD awards $7 million to nonprofit to help Prima Wawona employees

With over 5,000 employees facing layoffs from bankrupt farming giant Prima Wawona, California has struck a deal with a nonprofit to help those employees get back on their feet.

The California Employment Development Department has awarded $7 million to a farmworker nonprofit organization to help out farmworkers at bankrupt Prima Wawona, which recently sent out notices of mass layoffs. 

La Cooperativa Campesina de California is the recipient of the award and will assist Prima Wawona employees by providing outreach and employment training services. 


The backstory: Prima Wawona sent notices to nearly 5,300 employees that they may be terminated by March 12. 

  • The troubled farming giant, which is currently undergoing liquidation as part of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, issued layoff notices to local governments, pursuant to the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act. 

The big picture: La Cooperative will focus its outreach to farmworkers that were recently laid off by Prima Wawona, as well as other employers such as TriMas, Campbell Soup Supply, Premium Services, Kern Vineyards and others. 

  • La Cooperative will use grant funds to address common reemployment barriers through a network of local partnerships in 36 counties. 
  • Services include client-centered assessments, remedia education, vocational skills training, hands-on training, pre-apprenticeship training, on-the-job training, work experience and career pathway counseling. 
  • Wrap-around services will also be offered to address employment barriers such as food, housing, utilities, medical, clothing, work tools and transportation. 

What they’re saying: “California is home to one of the largest populations of farmworkers in the country – a population which regularly faces extensive barriers to finding new jobs once they are out of work.” said EDD Director Nancy Farias. “Ensuring that our farmworkers have access to the support and training they need to secure sustainable jobs is not just an investment in these workers, but an investment in our local economies.”

Statement from Wawona Frozen Foods: The San Joaquin Valley-based, family-owned and operated Wawona Frozen Foods is not affiliated in any way with the fresh fruit company, Prima Wawona. Wawona Frozen Foods is a third-generation company which just celebrated its 60th year in business and is among the largest frozen fruit companies in the nation.

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