Farmworkers continue labor dispute negotiations with Sakuma Brothers Farms

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Rosalinda Guillen
Community to Community Development
Phone (360) 738-0893
decomunidad@qwestoffice.net 203 W. Holly, Ste 317
Bellingham, WA 98225

Farmworkers continue labor dispute negotiations with Sakuma Brothers Farms

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Strike Committee prepares for second round of negotiations with Sakuma Brothers Farms

Burlington, WA, July 13, 2013: Indigenous Mexican farmworkers began a second round of negotiations with Sakuma Brothers Farm executive Ryan Sakuma today. The striking workers achieved their first victory yesterday, when farmworker Federico Lopez was reinstated after being fired on July 10, 2013. Today’s negotiations focused on the worker’s main grievance over wages that were presented by the 11 member strike committee. Ryan Sakuma was unable to negotiate wages today because he claimed that the supervisor decides the rate of pay, however he agreed to remove underage youth from checker positions in regards to demand number three and he also agreed to consider hiring some of the farm worker youth in some non-picking jobs.

STRIKE COMMITTEE LIST OF GRIEVANCES

    1. Que no corran a Federico Lopez.
    For Federico Lopez not to be fired.

    Federico Lopez was unjustly fired on July 10, 2013. This violates labor regulations governing retaliation by employers over worker grievances. Federico Lopez should be made whole, including being reinstated as a picker, with restoration of any pay, and supervisors should cease and desist retaliation as required by law.

    2. Que nos suban más por libra, 70 centavos.
    We want a higher rate per pound, 70 cents.

    Sakuma Brothers Farms set a piece rate wage at .30 cents per pound at the beginning of the blueberry harvest, pickers are struggling to make the minimum wage of $9.19 per hour at this rate in an 8 hour period. This violates Washington state minimum wage requirements. Pickers should be made whole, by being paid at least the equivalent of $9.19 an hour for their time picking berries.

    3. Quitar el scaner y poner tarjetas.
    To remove scanners and use paper tickets.

    Sakuma Brothers Farms has introduced electronic scanners in place of paper tickets for documentation of pounds picked which calculates their wages. This new system hampers the picker’s ability to keep track of their production and limits their ability to dispute inaccurate entries. This violates workers rights to wage transparency. Pickers should be made whole by returning to paper tickets and the removal of underage youth from checker positions.

    4. No más intimidación a los trabajadores.
    To cease intimidation of workers.

    Pickers have experienced harassment based upon race and indigenous identity in the workplace. This violates state laws against harassment and a hostile workplace and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Sakuma Brothers Farm policy against intimidation and violence in the workplace. Pickers should be made whole, including but not limited to, enforcement of company policy and Sakuma Brothers Farm should cease and desist racial and ethnic harassment as required by law.

    5. No queremos al “Supervisor de Campo 2*” como mayordomo.
    We want the “supervisor of Camp 2*” removed as a crew boss.

    Pickers have identified crew boss “supervisor of Camp 2*” as being unbearably hostile. This violates state laws against harassment and a hostile workplace and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Pickers should be made whole, including but not limited to, the dismissal of “supervisor of Camp 2*” as a supervisor.

    *Supervisors name was rescinded as an act of good faith.
    6. Mejor trato a los trabajadores, respeto, lugar limpio, cabinas con mejor condiciones, no gritos ni amenazas.

    Better treatment of workers, respect, clean place to live, better maintained conditions, no yelling or threats.

    Pickers want to be treated with human dignity in the workplace and labor camps. Substandard living accomodations, unsanitary facilities, and racialized hostilities violate the migrants human rights. Pickers should be made whole, including but not limited to, maintenance and betterment of labor camp by Sakuma Brothers Farms and that labor camp managers cease and desist hostility and harassment as required by law.

    7. No forzar a trabajar en tiempo de enfermedad. No tocar las puertas.
    Not to be forced to work when they are sick. Not to knock on doors.

    Pickers have been denied sick leave. This violates workers human rights. Pickers should be made whole, including but not limited to, supervisors cease and desist the practice of knocking on the door of sick workers to force them to work.

    8. No obligar a traer comprobantes por falta de trabajo.
    To not require proof for missing work.

    Pickers have been unjustly required to provide professional documentation for missing work. This violates workers right to privacy. Pickers should be made whole by a discontinuation of the practice of requiring professional documentation for absences.

    9. No falta de respeto a los trabajadores.
    Do not disrespect workers.

    Indigenous pickers are not treated with respect at Sakuma Brothers Farm. This violates their human dignity and violates state anti-harassment and anti-hostility laws. Workers should be made whole, including but not limited to, the cease and desist of disrespectful and racist language such as “oaxaquita,” “indio,” “estupido,” and the use of stereotypes around inherent “laziness,” “drunkeness,” or “dirtiness” of Triqui and Mixteco farmworkers by Sakuma Brothers Farm executives, administrators, crop management, crew bosses, checkers and co-workers via receiving mandatory sensitivity and undoing racism training, and dismissal following failure to comply.

    10. No intimidación por la parte de mayordomos.
    No intimidation by supervisors.

    Pickers have experienced racialized and gendered harassment and hostility by their supervisors, for example yelling and screaming at women in front of their husbands. This violates state laws against harassment and hostile workplaces and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as Sakuma Brothers Farm policy against intimidation and violence in the workplace. Workers should be made whole, including but not limited to, supervisors ceasing and desisting harassment based on race and gender as required by law and also receive mandatory effective sensitivity and undoing racism training, and dismissal following failure to comply.

    11. Si nos corren que nos pagen todo y pasajes por venir y de regreso.
    If we are fired we want our travel expenses to be paid roundtrip.

    Pickers are concerned that they will be fired for work stoppages, complaints, grievances and demands for better wages. This violates the workers good faith in negotiating their wages with their employer, their freedom of association, and anti-retaliation labor law. Workers should be made whole should they be fired for striking, by being reimbursed roundtrip cost of transportation required to migrate to work out of state that were incurred in order to work for Sakuma Brothers Farms.

    12. Porque no trajeron a trabajadores huespedes a la fresa?
    Why didn’t Sakuma Brothers Farm request guestworkers for the strawberry harvest?

    Sakuma Brothers Farms has applied for H2A workers for the blueberry harvest in August. Pickers want to know why the farm had not applied for H2A workers for the strawberry harvest if there was a labor shortage. The pickers claim that there is no labor shortage and that it is unfair that guestworkers are getting paid $12.00 per hour, while they are earning a maximum of $9.19 per hour.

    13. Que pagen overtime.
    To be paid overtime.

    Pickers routinely work over 40 hours a week without overtime compensation. This violates state minimum wage and federal labor laws. Workers should be made whole, by being paid overtime and restoration of any pay that is owed.

    14. Problemas con child care.
    Problems with child care.

    Pickers have experienced problems with child care. This interferes with their ability to work as much as they are required. Workers should be made whole, including but not limited to, adequate child care or reasonable working hours.

Solidarity statements can be forwarded to Community to Community Development by e-mail at decomunidad@qwestoffice.net;

To fund the movement, access http://foodjustice.org click on the “donate” button to the right of the screen or send a check written out to Community to Community Development labeled “Strike Fund” to 203 W. Holly Street, Ste. 317, Bellingham, WA 98225.

Blogs on the Labor Dispute:
Triqui and Mixteco Strawberry Pickers on Strike for Dignity!

Who is Federico Lopez? Initial round of negotiations with Sakuma Brothers Farm results in reinstatement of striking strawberry picker

Skagit Valley Herald Articles:
Farm Workers Strike over Wages, Treatment

Sakumas workers reach partial agreement

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