FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Rosalinda Guillen 360-381-0293
Ramon Torres 360-920-7215
May 28, 2014
Farmworkers Win in Skagit County Court against Retaliation
Skagit County Superior Court Judge Susan Cook today ordered Sakuma Brothers Farms to immediately stop retaliating against farm workers by barring them from employment because they engaged in strikes last season.
Familias Unidas por la Justicia brought this case on behalf of its members seeking an emergency order because the berry season is starting. In April, Sakuma sent letters to 379 workers telling them they were not eligible for employment because they went on strike last season. The judge ordered Sakuma to immediately revoke the letter, which violated Washington law protecting the farm workers’ right to strike without retaliation.
This is the second time in eight months that a Skagit County judge has ordered Sakuma to stop retaliating against Familias members. Last September, Sakuma was ordered to remove guards they had stationed at labor camps where they could observe or eavesdrop on the workers. The order also prohibited Sakuma from following workers on public roads.
Speaking to Familias members after the court’s decision, Familias President Ramon Torres said, “This is a victory for farm workers. This will allow us to continue to work toward a fair negotiated contract with Sakuma Brothers.”
The judge declined to issue an emergency order requiring Sakuma to provide family housing, saying that she needed to have a larger factual record to decide the issue.
Judge Cook set a hearing for June 6 to decide whether to extend today’s emergency order and to resolve the family housing issue.
Community to Community is a place based, women-led grassroots organization working for a just society and healthy communities. We are committed to systemic change and to creating strategic alliances that strengthen local and global movements towards social, economic and environmental justice.
Famiias Unidas por la Justicia is an independent farm worker union based in Burlington, Washington made up of local and migrant berry pickers at Sakuma Bros. Farms. Familias Unidas por la Justicia is made up of over 300 indigenous migrant farmworker families who seek to secure a contract with their employer, Sakuma Bros. Farm.