Farmworkers demand dignity

Nearly 200 strawberry pickers went on strike for six days, beginning on July 11, against Sakuma Brothers Farms near Burlington, Wash. The workers have forced concessions from management and are continuing to negotiate over a range of issues. The farmworkers have exposed the oppressive conditions in their industry, while standing up for their rights.

The farmworkers are mostly Indigenous Triqui and Mixteco peoples from the Mexican state of Oaxaca. With their family members, they number more than 500. The workers have won strong support from the community and from Community To Community Development — and they have received donations,which are essential, as they have been on strike during a harvest.

The workers forced the rehiring of one of their co-workers, Federico López, who was fired for complaining about oppressive working conditions. They have also pushed the company to axe an abusive crew boss.

With their own 11-person negotiating committee, these agricultural workers have presented their list of 14 demands, which deal with the exploitative conditions they face. They object to their low pay, lack of breaks and being pressured by management to work when sick. Sakuma is being heavily pressured on the pay issue. Demands also confront the racist intimidation, slurs and threats made by the bosses in order to squeeze the maximum amount of profit out of the workers.

However, the farmworkers at Sakuma Brothers are now organized and on the move!