|Atlantic Blueberry Company|
Atlantic Blueberry Co.
Galletta is just one of the many people involved in the management of
Atlantic Blueberry Company, the largest cultivated blueberry farm in the
world. Art’s father, Duke, and four of his brothers started the farm
in 1935 with just five acres.
Today, the company is owned and operated by the second and the
1,300 acres in production, Galletta noted that labor is of chief concern
to their business, because they employ up to 1,200 people during the
peak of the season in late June and early July. What’s more, housing
is provided for about 600 employees and they must be cognizant of all of
the rules and regulations that apply to migrant housing.
their employee base, employees are either hired directly through
Atlantic Blueberry or crew leaders are used and they commit to bringing
a certain number of workers on any given day. Employees working as
harvesters are paid a piece rate but hours are also counted to ensure
that employees are making the minimum wage. Galletta said he pays close
attention to the wage and hour law and every employee has an
identification button that is scanned in the field with the time and
amount picked bring recorded.
changes in labor laws, Galletta described how helpful the New Jersey
Department of Labor is in providing an annual update on any regulatory
changes. New Jersey Farm Bureau is another organization looked to for
information and education about regulations.
admitted that it can be difficult to manage labor regulations because
different agencies may have opposing views on a rule. For example, when
inspecting their labor camp the department of labor wanted a screen door
on the front of the house, while the fire marshal wanted something else.
In this case the fire marshal’s authority superceded that of the
department of labor.
it comes to communicating with employees, Galletta noted that an
employee manual is given to new employees. The manual spells out the
policies they rely upon in their business practices such as
disciplinarian action or employee termination.
Galletta reiterated, “Labor is a key component of our operation,
especially during the summer. We try to surround ourselves with good
people and just focus on our work.”