A Lament: All Work and Less Pay

Labor is growing restless as productivity rises and wages shrink

It is not easy to work up a sweat inside the frost-coated chambers of the Norcal vegetable-freezing plant in Watsonville, Calif. Even so, the company's 700 employees are perspiring heavily these days. The workers have stepped up their productivity 10% over the level of two years ago without any major improvement in the food-processing equipment at their disposal. Yet for all their labors, the workers are not getting more pay but less. Last March they accepted wage cuts of 17%, from $7.06 an hour to $5.85 for most packers. They had little choice: the new arrangement saved their jobs, which were...