The Stand

Support mushroom workers 11-20 in Seattle

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Rally at Metropolitan Market with Ostrom mushroom workers, whose demands for voice at work are being ignored by management  

 

SEATTLE — The workers at Ostrom Mushroom Farms in Sunnyside, Wash., are demanding a workplace free from threats, excessive pressure, harassment, and retaliation. A majority of workers there have chosen to be represented by the United Farm Workers, but Ostrom management has refused to recognize or meet with their union.

Now the workers are asking retailers of Ostrom mushrooms to observe ethical purchasing practices. They are asking that Metropolitan Market in Seattle join in the struggle by telling Ostrom Mushrooms management that they must negotiate with the UFW, their workers’ union.

TAKE A STAND — All union members and community supporters in the Seattle area are encouraged to rally in solidarity with Ostrom mushroom workers on Sunday, Nov. 20 at 11 a.m. outside Metropolitan Market, 100 Mercer St. in Seattle. RSVP at the Facebook event page. Also, please sign this petition in support of the workers.

BACKGROUND

On June 22, Ostrom workers and community members marched to the company to deliver a petition signed by more than 200 workers demanding fair pay, safe working conditions, equal opportunities, and respect. A democratically elected committee of the workers was leading a union drive to be represented by the UFW.

After it was clear the committee had a majority of current workers supporting the union, the committee met with Ostrom management on Aug. 3 and was able to secure back wages owed to many of the workers. But since then, Ostrom has refused to respond to the committee or meet with the union.

“We are fighting for a voice at work,” said Jose Martinez, who has worked for Ostrom for more than two years and was elected to the worker committee. “We have come together to demand better working conditions. We will not stop fighting. We are just getting started, we demand to be treated like human beings.”

Later in August, Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a civil lawsuit against Ostrom Mushroom Farms for discriminating against U.S. residents and women, retaliating against workers who spoke out, and abusing the H-2A system by systematically firing its majority-female Washington mushroom pickers and replacing them with H-2A foreign agricultural workers who were mostly male. The attorney general reports:

From January 2021 to May 2022, the company fired over 140 of its U.S.-based mushroom pickers, most of whom were women. Many of them already had years of experience working at the farm. During the same period, Ostrom hired 65 temporary, foreign agricultural workers under the federal H-2A program — all but two of whom were men. In addition, as the company was firing its majority female workers, it posted a job advertisement on Facebook seeking “only males” to work at the farm.

On Sept. 10, the Ostrom workers’ committee that had been leading a card drive announced it had a strong majority of current workers supporting the union, including more than 100 workers who were unjustly fired from the company, but the company still refused to recognize or respond to the union’s communications.

On Sept. 17, Ostrom workers, UFW members and community supporters marched to Ostrom company headquarters in Sunnyside to demand that the company respond to their proposals and meet with them. Yet the company still refuses to respond to the union.

Ostrom’s treatment of its workers is unacceptable. It’s time for the community to stand with these workers are they demand fair wages and decent working conditions without retaliation. Join them on Sunday, Nov. 20 in Seattle!

Short URL: https://www.thestand.org/?p=112724

Posted by on Nov 14 2022. Filed under LOCAL. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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