The following from Familias Unidas por la Justicia:
BURLINGTON (Aug. 10, 2016) — On Tuesday morning, close to 120 Familias Unidas por la Justicia (FUJ) members at Sakuma blueberry fields walked out of the fields once again protesting the offered wage of 56 cents per pound. Workers explained how the management paid 60 cents per pound for the blueberry the day before. In a nearby field, they were paying 77 cents for the same berry.
Workers objected to the unfairness and decided to go to the blackberry fields where workers are paid per box and can earn more. Ryan Sakuma attempted to physically block the workers from going into the fields. He even threatened with calling police on the workers and tried to fire a worker — member of the FUJ worker organizing committee. Workers loudly objected to the retaliation and Ryan then asked the workers to meet with him and Danny Weeden at the corporate offices.
Close to 45 members of the field organizing committee of FUJ met with Weeden and Ryan Sakuma. After more than two hours of negotiation, workers were able to obtain a raise of 9 cents more per pound, for a total of 65 cents per pound of blueberry. With this increase, workers agreed to return to work Wednesday.
“We don’t walk out of the field because we just feel like it, this is the only way that Sakuma listens to our demands for pay that is fair for our labor,” said Tomas Ramon member of the coordinating committee. “That is why we need a union contract, so we can work and not to be calling for work stoppages in order to get a fair wage.”
FUJ continues calling for Sakuma Berry Farms to negotiate in good faith and stop using intimidation in the fields.
► In today’s Skagit Valley Herald — No new meeting set in Sakuma Bros. Farms negotiation — Sakuma Bros. Farms and a labor group met nearly a month ago to discuss the potential unionization of farmworkers, but have yet to schedule a second meeting. Sakuma Bros. announced in July that it would negotiate with Familias Unidas por la Justicia on holding a vote of farmworkers on whether they want the group to represent them. The two groups met once on July 14.