Excessive employee turnover in dairies can be expensive and upset routines-which in turn can affect animal health and dairy productivity. While a replacement is being hired, a substitute has to do the work. Employee turnover may also be a symptom of other labor management challenges at the dairy.
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Data collected in 2009 indicated the average length of employment (LOE) for 209 dairy workers (interviewed in San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Merced counties) was 6.6 years (ranged from 2 weeks to 40 years). On the average, these subjects had held three dairy positions, that is, their present job plus two more. In 1984 the LOE was about 4 years and in 1953, about 1 year (Fuller and Viles).

Most workers had a single, prominent reason for leaving their dairy jobs. In order of importance, the reasons for leaving were compensation and benefits, dairy economic problems, personal or family reasons, working schedules and time off, housing and transportation, relations with management, job duties, laid off or discharged, relations with other employees, job injuries, and started own dairy.

In recent years employees have reported improved relations with management and supervisors. Perhaps this is due to better management practices as well as employment laws that protect workers from more arbitrary treatment. There is, however, a substantially greater turnover among Hispanic than non-Hispanic employees.

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Fuller, V, & Viles, G. L. (1953). A California Labor Study: Labor-Management Relations and Personnel Practices. Market Milk Dairies, Fresno, California. California Agricultural Experimental Station, Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics, College of Agriculture, University of California. January 1953. Mimeograph Report No. 140.