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State UFW Solidarity Committee to support mushroom workers

SEATTLE (June 2, 2023) — At a Seattle meeting with top Washington state labor leaders on Wednesday, United Farm Workers President Teresa Romero announced the creation of a new Washington State UFW Solidarity Committee to aid the ongoing efforts of Windmill-Ostrom Mushroom Workers in Sunnyside, Wash., to obtain a UFW contract.

UFW President Teresa Romero at an April 18 march to support Windmill mushroom workers.

“The workers at Windmill Farms have faced down discrimination, retaliation, and illegal terminations from management to continue to fight for a union contract,” Romero said. “Today the entire Washington state labor community reaffirmed their support and solidarity for the Sunnyside mushroom workers’ unionization campaign. Together, we will bring the benefits of a union job to some of the most vulnerable and marginalized workers in American society.”

“Mushroom workers have the absolute support of Washington’s labor movement,” said April Sims, President of the Washington State Labor Council. “All workers deserve fair treatment at work and the freedom to join together to negotiate for better wages and working conditions. Workers at Windmill Farms are getting neither of those things. We are proud to stand in solidarity with these brave mushroom workers and we will fight side-by-side until we win a union contract at Windmill Farms.”

In September 2022, Ostrom Mushroom workers chose to unionize with the UFW after becoming fed up with unsafe production standards, discriminatory firings, and wage cuts. The company refused to recognize their union and was sold to Windmill Farms in February. Workers reported that they were then given a letter offering “new” employment under the new management — but at lower wages, in less preferable jobs, and all under an arbitration agreement for any labor disputes. Like Ostrom, Windmill Farms has so far refused to recognize the workers’ union despite community pressure to do so.

As Windmill Farms workers continue to press for union recognition, Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced May 17 that Ostrom Mushroom Farms would pay former workers $3.4 million to resolve the state’s lawsuit in response to discrimination based on gender and immigration status, which displaced the local female workforce in favor of nearly all-male H2A guest workers.

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