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Monterey Mushrooms, Inc.

Culture of respect seeds success

At a Glance

Monterey Mushrooms, Inc., was established in 1971 as a family-owned and operated farm in California. Today, the international company grows mushrooms “locally” at facilities across the United States.

Watsonville, CA



Union Employees
1,000 growers, packagers, and distributers

Annual Revenues

10 production facilities nationwide

A workplace culture based on trust and collaboration has made Monterey Mushrooms a leader in the agricultural industry. With 1,000 union employees, the mushroom giant benefits from an empowered workforce that has a stake in the future of the company.

Founded in 1971, Monterey Mushrooms is the largest marketer of fresh mushrooms in the United States. The company’s consumer products, which include organic varieties and mushrooms high in vitamin D, are available at major retailers nationwide. The company has 10 sites where they create a variety of products, from seeds and mushrooms to industry supplies. As a major producer of spawn and seeding technologies, the company has become a worldwide leader in the biotechnical side of the mushroom industry.

One source of Monterey Mushroom’s success has been healthy working relationship between management and labor. Thanks to the leadership of President and CEO Shah Kazemi, the grower has worked closely with the United Farm Workers (UFW), the union representing Monterey workers since 1980. Along with earning some of the highest wages in the industry, all company employees receive medical benefits, including vision and dental insurance, as well as access to family leave. As Wayne Bautista, the General Manager at the firm’s facility in Royal Oaks, CA, puts it, the company’s labor relations are grounded in “deep rooted values of respect [and] integrity.”

Indeed, workers at the company feel heard, empowered, and are given opportunities to grow.  In addition to offering workers English language courses, the grower has given $2.1 million in college scholarships to employees and their dependents. New training initiatives have also shifted dynamics between management and employees, replacing a confrontational style to a new era of collaboration. Since 2003, hourly workers have been trained in the “Learn to Build Trust” Program, which has reduced the number of managers in favor of transitioning more hourly workers into leadership and supervisory positions. Employees, via their union, are empowered to make recommendations to streamline company operations, leading to increased numbers of promotions and union members becoming managers themselves. Also thanks to this new atmosphere of cooperation, grievances have nearly been eliminated.

An active partnership between management and labor has given Monterey Mushrooms an extremely stable workforce. Turnover is virtually nonexistent (0.2% – 0.4%) and the company now boasts of many second-generation employees. The company’s commitment to labor and social responsibility continues to grow, as Monterey is currently working with the UFW to create a social compliance certification program to encourage other businesses to act responsibly.

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