Sakuma Brothers Farms: Mixteco and Triqui Pickers commence third General Strike
Burlington, WA, September 13, 2013: Families United for Justice report today that 300 berry pickers located at Labor Camp 2 on the Benson Road are continuing their strike for farm worker justice in Skagit County.
This past week, Familias Unidas por la Justicia farmworkers held two separate workplace work stoppages over wages at Sakuma Bros. Farm, one with 150 blueberry pickers and another with 200 blackberry pickers. Both strikes gained wage increases of $1.00 and $0.75 respectively.
On Thursday September 12, 2013, committee member Filemon Piñeda reported that Familias Unidas por la Justicia President Ramon Torres was summarily fired for his role in the strikes. Farmworkers contend that Torres was fired for refusing to negotiate proposed minimum productivity requirements that grower Ryan Sakuma sought to implement as a condition of the wage increase. Torres saw this as a productivity “speed up” that not all pickers would be able to meet, putting at risk their ability to work.
Piñeda reported that he was there when the Skagit County Sheriff arrived to escort Torres to meet with the Sakumas and to remove him from the property. Piñeda said, “this is why they fired him, they [Sakuma executives] didn’t want to see him in the fields.”
Even with the gravity of the situation, the farmworkers were in good spirits yesterday, the first day of the strike. As they rallied, the committee members asked, “¿Nadie va trabajar?/is everyone going to stop work until this matter is resolved?” to which the crowd of 300 farmworkers unanimously answered “¡Si!/ Yes!” as they cheered each other on for encouragement.
The workers are asking the employer to return to the bargaining table in order to resolve the issue of fair wages, a just contract, and a halt to current and any future retaliation for exercising worker rights.
Tomorrow, September 14, the local community and the workers are holding a rally and march for justice. They will assemble at 12:00 p.m. at the Cook Road exit from I5 (exit 232). The march will then proceed approximately .8 miles to the Sakuma Brothers Berry Farm Stand where a petition asking for fair wages, a just contract and a halt to current and any future retaliation will be presented.
Rosalinda Guillen, Executive Director
203 W. Holly, Suite 317
Bellingham, WA 98225
decomunidad [at] qwestoffice [dot] net