After more than a year, mushroom workers are still demanding basic rights
SUNNYSIDE, Wash. (Oct. 27, 2023) — More than a year after they voted to join together in a union with United Farm Workers, the mushroom workers at Ostrom/Windmill Farms continue to demand recognition of their union and negotiation for a fair contract. But management continues to ignore the workers.
So now, the UFW is stepping up its pressure on the Canadian investment corporation that financed the Windmill Farms’ purchase of Ostrom Farms earlier this year. Instar Asset Management should be using its influence to make sure this labor dispute is resolved and workers’ right to join together in a union is respected.
TAKE A STAND — Send a message to Gregory J. Smith, CEO of Instar, and tell him that his company has the corporate responsibility to use its influence to ensure that this dispute is resolved.
The UFW writes: Because of Ostrom’s outrageous labor practices, workers voted in 2022 to unionize with the UFW. They are demanding a halt to gender discrimination (currently under investigation by the Washington State Attorney General), threats, retaliation and workplace injuries as well as asking for fair wages and safe working conditions.
Once this purchase went through with Instar’s funding, workers were called into meetings, informed the company had been sold and told everyone was fired. Workers were offered jobs at the new company Windmill Farms – but they would earn less, have a 90-day probationary period when they could be fired for any reason and they only would be hired back if they signed an arbitration agreement – giving up their rights to sue if the company violates the law. Workers shared they had to sign on the spot or leave – even if official papers said they had 24 hours. Many had to accept jobs they had no training for – including people with on-the-job injuries that required light duty.
Mushroom workers are keeping up their fight at Windmill Farms where the union says the same unethical behavior continues. More than 100 workers and supporters recently rallied in front of the plant to give the company a strong message that they are not backing down.
They won’t quit and hope you won’t quit supporting them. Let the CEO of Instar, Gregory J. Smith know you are appalled. Ask Instar why they would want to be associated with this sort of unethical and illegal conduct.
PREVIOUSLY at The Stand:
Support for Windmill workers mushrooms (Sept. 1)
State UFW Solidarity Committee to support mushroom workers (June 2)
Mushroom workers get $3.4 million for violations (May 18)
Ostrom Mushroom sold; UFW blasts new anti-union owners (Feb. 24)