Press Release (09/20/13): Sakuma Bros Refuse to Negotiate

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

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Sakuma Circles the wagons with Transworld Security Services. Photo by Rosalinda Guillen.

Burlington, WA, September 20, 2013: Sakuma Bros has now refused to meet with workers despite telling the worker committee and at least two press organizations yesterday that they were willing to meet. Earlier this week, Sakuma refused to meet unless Familias Unidas por la Justicia agreed to end the strike and the boycott, negotiate without their leader, and continue to allow the company’s security personnel inside the labor camps. The committee had asked that the parties come with prepared proposals on specified topics, and that no retaliation be made toward any worker, that their leader Ramon Torres be allowed at the bargaining table, and that the company be willing to consider re-hiring Torres. Because the committee recognizes the extreme hardship the strike is placing on the workers and their families, the committee agreed to all company pre-conditions and dropped its own conditions, believing that the company would then act in good faith and come to the bargaining table. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

According to an article in the Skagit Valley Herald yesterday 9/19/13, “In a statement Thursday the company said management remains willing to negotiate with the rest of the workers.” Additionally, in an interview with KUOW company spokesperson, John Segale, says, “…the strikes have slowed down the harvest, and the company is willing to talk with the labor group.” But these public statements of willingness to negotiate were contradicted by the email sent at 7:48 last night.

In the email received last evening, the company attorney says that because Familias Unidas por la Justicia’s spokesperson’s comments on KUOW regarding the domestic workers not being paid the same as required for H-2A visa workers ($12.00/hour) and about reinstatement for Torres, the company “will not meet with her or the Committee”. That story aired yesterday on KUOW radio was attached to the attorney’s email. The attorney also mentioned in a phone call that Sakuma was angry about the news story carried by King 5 television about the boycott of its berries at the Uwajimaya store in Seattle.

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FUJ committee members enter agreement with Uwajimaya Manager to stop selling Sakuma Berries. Photo by Star Murray.

More than 200 workers remain on strike today. The Familias Unidas por la Justicia will continue to inform the public about working conditions at Sakuma Bros. farms as it expands its boycott of all Sakuma berries and processors using them.

For more information, contact Rosalinda Guillen.

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