In a massive display of union solidarity, Teamsters who work at the Darigold processing plants in Seattle and Issaquah, voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike on May 21.
The final vote was 163-0. Voting took place at the Teamsters hall in Tukwila throughout the day on Saturday.
"This vote sends a powerful message to the company that Teamsters at Darigold are serious about defending their livelihoods," said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters 117.
Our next scheduled meeting with the company is on May 25. We are also tentatively scheduled to meet on June 1.
Stay informed during contract negotiations! To sign up for text message alerts, text "Teamsters Darigold" to 313131. If you have questions, talk to your Bargaining Committee Member or Business Rep.
Thanks to everyone who showed up and voted on Saturday. Together we will win a fair contract!
The following was reported today in the Stand:
After work stoppages on the first few days of the blueberry harvest, farmworkers at Sakuma Brothers Farms continue their struggle for fair treatment and a contract.
TAKE A STAND — Support the Sakuma berry pickers who have organized with the independent union Familias Unidas por la Justicia at a March for a Contract this Saturday, July 11. Meet at 10:30 a.m. at the intersection of Cook Road and Old Highway 99 in Burlington. The date commemorates the Sakuma farmworkers’ first strike in 2013, which led to the formation of their union.
Last week, Sakuma berry pickers walked off the job on the first two days of the blueberry harvest over management’s attempts to divide the workers into small groups and isolate FUJ supporters. Some 200 workers called for the work stoppage.
I visited a big central California farm a couple of weeks ago, with 50 workers in a single field. Their days looked something like this: repetitive manual labor for two hours, then a 15-minute break; that same labor for two hours, then a 30-minute lunch; repeat, then a break; repeat, then go home. For this they were paid $10 an hour, or roughly $80 a day. This is seasonal work, but even if it were year-round employment, that $400 a week translates to $20,800 a year, barely above the poverty level for a family of four — and it carries no benefits. Yet without those workers, the rest of us don’t eat salad.
BURLINGTON, Wash. – On a recent morning at Sakuma Brothers Farm, eight Latino workers sat on a bench seat behind a tractor, planting strawberry roots that will bear fruit in a few years. Dust masks and goggles covered their faces.
There’s a good chance these field workers have joined, or work side by side, with a group calling for a union contract here.
During World War Two the Sakumas were interned because of their Japanese ancestry, and would have lost their land, as many Japanese farmers did, had it not been held in trust for them by another local rancher until the war ended. Today the business has grown far beyond its immigrant roots, and is one of the largest berry growers in Washington, where berries are big business. It has annual sales of $6.1 million, and big corporate customers like Haagen Dazs ice cream. It owns a retail outlet, a freezer and processing plant, and a chain of nurseries in California that grow rootstock.
By contrast, Sakuma workers have very few resources. Some are local workers, but over half are migrants from California, like Ventura and her family. Both the local workers and the California migrants are immigrants, coming from indigenous towns in Oaxaca and southern Mexico where people speak languages like Mixteco and Triqui. While all farm workers in the U.S. are poorly paid, these new indigenous arrivals are at the bottom. One recent study in California found that tens of thousands of indigenous farm workers received less than minimum wage.
Labor leaders say new hourly wage could lower pay for fastest berry pickers.
Yesterday, we posted regarding the death of a Washington dairy farm worker. Below is a story from the President of the Washington State Labor Council, Jeff Johnson, along with information on how to send contributions to help support Randy Vasquez's wife and two young children.
The United Farm Workers marked Cesar Chavez’s March 31 birthday in Seattle with an 11 a.m. vigil at Darigold Inc. that also honored Randy Vasquez, 27, who drowned in a manure pond while laboring on Feb. 25 at Riverview Dairy in Mabton, Wash. which is associated with Darigold.
Should berry pickers be paid separately for rest breaks? This is a question before the Washington State Supreme Court tomorrow.
The state Supreme Court is being asked to decide whether farmers are required to pay farmworkers who earn wages based on how much they pick additional, separate pay for rest breaks.