Burlington, Wash. — Hundreds of farmworkers from Familias Unidas por la Justicia marched along with supporters here on July 11. The 3rd Annual March for a Union Contract marked the third anniversary of the union’s founding. This union of Indigenous Mexican workers, founded in struggle, has held numerous strikes since then.
The protesters marched a mile and a half to Sakuma Brothers berry farm, where many of the workers have been employed for years. Only 10 days before the march, 200 workers walked out when Sakuma tried to separate them into groups of 10 and have them pick in 15-minute intervals. The union said this was an attempt to divide the workers and a reprisal against the union.
The marchers chanted, “Wage theft is not OK, Sakuma has to pay!” The union has exposed Sakuma for wage theft, poverty wages, racist and sexist harassment, among other abuses. Familias Unidas upholds the demand for a $15-an-hour wage and wears it on their shirts. Some of the unions on the march were the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, the Steelworkers, Food and Commercial Workers and also Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste from Oregon. Community to Community and religious groups also marched.
The rally was held in front of Sakuma’s farm and nearby giant processor house, across from farmworkers’ housing.
Speaking at the rally were Familias Unidas President Ramon Torres and Vice President Filemon Pineda. Jeff Johnson, of the Washington State Labor Council, representing 400,000 workers, also spoke, as did President Ramon Rodriguez of PCUN, representing 6,500 mostly Indigenous farmworkers in Oregon. A PCUN woman worker addressed the crowd in Mixteco.
Familias Unidas and supporters in the labor movement are carrying out an active boycott of Driscoll’s, a global distributor and the main distributor of Sakuma berries.
Photo: Farmworkers and labor supporters picket Sakuma.
Credit: Washington State Labor Council