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Leaflet at Seattle premiere of ‘Cesar Chavez’ on Thursday

SEATTLE (Mar. 25, 2014) — Farm workers and their supporters will leaflet moviegoers on Thursday outside the premiere of the new film, “Cesar Chavez: History Is Made One Step at a Time,” at 7 p.m. outside the Meridian 16 Regal Cinemas, 1501 7th Ave. (7th & Pine) in Seattle. Leaflets will call attention to the ongoing struggles of local farm workers at Sakuma Brothers and Darigold suppliers.

The Diversity Committee of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO urges volunteers to participate in this action in the same spirit of Cesar Chavez, the famed civil rights and leader of the United Farm Workers profiled in the new film. To participate, please contact committee chair Nicole Grant via email for details.

Here is the film’s official trailer:


Here is the latest news from the Darigold and Sakuma struggles:


Dairy workers at farms that supply Darigold products have been demanding that Darigold listen to their concerns since 2011, but until recently, the company refused to meet with them and have still failed to take any action to stop the ongoing abuses of workers.

UFW-action-DarigoldA vast majority of workers signed union representation cards at one of Darigold’s supplier dairies, Ruby Ridge. The employees complained of wage theft, unsanitary restrooms, lack of rest or lunch breaks, lack of water, and other forms of mistreatment. After Darigold executives refused to meet with these workers, workers from other Darigold dairies across the Pacific Northwest came forward describing conditions similar to those experienced at Ruby Ridge.

Margarito Martinez summarizes the working conditions at Ruby Ridge Dairy, “We work 12 to 14 hours a day without lunch or rest breaks and without water.  On top of that they steal our wages. We’ve been fighting for four years and nothing changes.”

At the most recent Darigold action at the corporate offices in Seattle in January, an executive did agree to meet with a delegation representing the workers. At a similar action held March 2 at Darigold’s Portland plant, workers from Darigold’s suppliers were joined by over a hundred union members, students, faith leaders, and community members to deliver a petition containing more than 7,000 signatures from Darigold consumers in the Pacific Northwest who support the workers. They marched from Portland State University in the cold rain, across the Hawthorne Bridge and arrived at the Darigold plant only to see that they had been locked out. Informed in advance that the group would visit that day, no one from the Darigold plant came down to receive the petitions.

Although Darigold has yet to take steps to address abuse of workers at its supplier dairies, workers are encouraged and plan to continue the fight.

“I think that we’re advancing,” said dairy worker Rafael Muniz. “Before they didn’t want to know anything about us. Before they would leave escorted by the police. This time (in Seattle) they received us… This gave me new energy. It shows that we’re advancing in our movement for better working conditions and that Darigold is now listening.”

Sakuma Brothers Farms

sakuma-farmworkers-strike-2More than 200 Triqui and Mixteco farmworkers have waged a series of strikes at Sakuma to protest low piece-rate wages and hostile working conditions. The farmworkers then contended that Sakuma Brothers management engaged in retaliatory actions against the workers who fought to improve conditions.

The farmworkers — many of whom have worked for Sakuma Brothers Farms for over a decade, some families contributing three generations of labor to the farm — formed Familias Unidas por la Justicia to wage their struggle for fair wages and decent working conditions. They launched a boycott of Sakuma Brothers berries.

They have won some improvements, According to their website, “In this struggle farmworkers were able to secure a temporary wage increase to $12 per hour, new bedding and mattresses that were not infested with bed bugs, the reinstatement of Federico Lopez, the removal of a hostile supervisor, $6,000 in back pay for 30 farmworker youth, a temporary change in the way piece rates were determined, a signed agreement against retaliation, and a restraining order against security guards in the labor camps. Even so, as farmworkers fight for a valid labor contract, they continue to be subject to Sakuma consultants.”

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