FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Rosalinda Guillen
Community to Community Development
Phone (360) 738-0893
203 W. Holly, Ste 317
Bellingham, WA 98225
Burlington, WA, August 19, 2013: The leadership of Familias Unidas por la Justicia and 246 members authorized a consumer boycott against Sakuma Brothers Farms on Friday, August 16, 2013. This difficult decision was reached after the company broke its verbal agreement to conduct a collaborative picking test that determines the price per pound based on a minimum wage of $12.00 per hour.
On August 14, 2013 Ryan Sakuma refused to pay 48 cents per pound that was determined by the test pick. He said that he would only pay 40 cents per pound. This piece rate was .08 cents lower than what the field testers and supervisor calculated for the blueberry field in question. For the farmworkers .08 cents is the difference between a living wage that they had negotiated and the sub-poverty wages that caused them to stop work. Committee President Ramon Torres said, “This is why we are going to boycott, because we had made an agreement and they did not honor that agreement.” Farmworker employees at Sakuma Brothers Farms insist that the law guarantees them equal pay with the H-2a guestworkers. Due to this breech of verbal agreement, the elected worker committee has broken off negotiations with the management of Sakuma Brothers Farms, Inc. The committee now is calling for a mutually agreed upon contract that recognizes the worker committee and includes fair wages, better treatment, a grievance process, seniority, and better living conditions.
Farmworkers will be organizing boycott information for consumers on Tuesday, August 20, 2013 at 10:00am until 1:00pm at the three following locations:
1515 N. 18th Street
Mount Vernon, WA
1030 Lakeway Drive
Bellingham, WA 98229
Town and Country Markets
1400 NW 56th Street
Seattle, WA 98107
Sakuma Brothers Farms employees and Farmworker leaders calling for the boycott will be available to speak to the media at length at all locations.
Look for important updates about Familias Unidas por la Justicia and press releases at http://www.foodjustice.org and on Community to Community Development’s facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Community2Community!
Al Jazeera America: David Bacon, “Stand off in the Strawberry Fields,” 8/19/2013: http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2013/8/19/stand-off-in-thestrawberryfields.html
Seattle Times: Lornet Turnbull and Anna Boiko-Weyrauch, “Striking farmworkers afraid of guest-worker program,” 7/23/2013: http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2021456869_migrantworkersxml.html