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Farmworkers walk off job again; call Sakuma to urge negotiations

call-sakuma-to-negotiateUPDATE (10 a.m. July 2, 2015) — “Workers have another work stoppage this morning,” reads the Familias Unidas por la Justicia Union’s Facebook page. “They were trying to negotiate a fair price for blueberries with supervisors but no agreement was reached.” FUJ is now urging all supporters to call Sakuma HQ at 360-757-6611 and tell management to negotiate with the workers!

UPDATE (July 2, 2015) — Latino Advocacy distributed a news release late Wednesday headlined, “Farmworkers return to blueberry fields hoping to begin working again.” The release also clarified the workers’ objections to the company’s attempt to separate workers:

Familias Unidas por la Justicia Union (FUJ) members saw this tactic used last season to isolate the organized workers. After separating the workers, the paid union-busting consultants brought in by Sakuma Brothers would then have meetings with all the newer workers who weren’t part of the union in one field and give them misinformation about the union and advise them to not join FUJ. The supervisors would have a separate meeting with the union members and send them to different fields in an effort to isolate them… (Wednesday’s) work stoppage was to stop Sakuma Farms from dividing workers into groups. The workers are ready to continue the strike tomorrow (Thursday) if Sakuma Farms does not meet their demand to keep the workforce together and offer a fair wage as they start the blueberry harvest.

Check out the FUJ Facebook page for the latest.

The following news release was distributed this morning by Latino Advocacy:

sakuma-work-stoppage-15Jul01BURLINGTON, Wash. (July 1, 2015) — Farmworkers at Sakuma Brothers Farm walked out from the fields on the first day of the blueberry harvest. In an effort to isolate Familia Unidas por la Justicia (FUJ) union members, the company wanted workers to start picking in groups of 10 people entering the fields in 15 minutes intervals. After a lengthy negotiation, all workers walked out at 7:35 a.m. today due to another unfair labor practice.

Close to 200 workers called a work stoppage just a day after Danny Weeden, Sakuma Brothers CEO, sent a letter to legislators, organizations, community groups, and others, claiming things at the farm were going very well for the workers, some earning as much as $33 per hour.

“This is a reprisal action against the union,” said Benito Lopez from FUJ. “The company didn’t want us to start work at the same time. They wanted us to be in groups of 10 people, and each group begins work every 15 minutes one after the other. Sakuma is still trying to divide the workers, but all workers decided to remain together and walked out from the field in unity and against yet another unjust labor practice. On top of the low wages, now we have to put up with these practices.”

As of now, workers remain outside the fields with their families, and will go back to fields tomorrow (Thursday) at 6:30 a.m. to find out if Sakuma has come to its senses and allow the harvest to continue by having workers do their job as they have in the past, together and without reprisals for their union efforts.

For updates, see the FUJ Facebook page.

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