The U.S. Department of Labor
has slapped seven Big
Island coffee businesses
with fines totaling more than $100,000.
Terence Trotter, director of
the Honolulu District Office, was shocked to find widespread labor violations
at some of Kona’s best-known coffee farms.
Trotter says farm owners
failed to pay workers the Federal minimum wage. Violation fees add up to more
than $63,000 in back pay. Several farms mislabeled coffee pickers
as independent contractors, denying them proper pay.
The Department of Labor is
working with the Kona Coffee Council to make sure these violations are not
The coffee farms in
violation included Gold Coffee Company, Greenwell Farms, Koa Coffee Plantation,
Bird Feather Hawaii,
Mountain Thunder Coffee and Kona Blue Sky Coffee. Farm labor contractor
Tomasita Farm Service was also named.
Full audio available here:
(Molly Solomon / HPR News)