The Stand

Judge to Sakuma Brothers: Stop retaliation

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(May 29, 2013) — Skagit County Superior Court Judge Susan Cook on Tuesday ordered Sakuma Brothers Farms to immediately stop retaliating against farm workers by barring them from employment because they engaged in strikes last season.

Workers at Sakuma Brothers Berry Farm in Mount Vernon have voted to conduct work stoppages over low wages and poor working conditions.

Workers at Sakuma Brothers Berry Farm in Mount Vernon have voted to conduct work stoppages over low wages and poor working conditions.

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.

“This is a victory for farm workers,” Familias President Ramon Torres told Familias members after Tuesday’s court’s decision. “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.

Short URL: http://www.thestand.org/?p=32127

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