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This season [2013], we formed Familias Unidas por la Justicia and presented to the world the reality of working for Sakuma Bros. Farms.

Rather than acknowledging our reality the Sakuma family is not willing to sit down with us. They know what they’re doing is wrong and shameful.

Instead, they engaged a Public Relations firm to spread disinformation about us and our self-organizing.

They don’t want the local community to find out that they have systematically stolen our wages, particularly our children’s wages, and blamed it on a “glitch”.

What do you call a “glitch” that has been going on for years? 3 days ago when we checked several pay stubs we found the same “miscalculations” of our wages – not just the young people but adults as well.

These “miscalculations” or “glitches” have been happening for years.

Every year counts for us – Berry picking like this takes our youth away.

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"You see the farmland and the owners, but not the workers. We have a different reality that is silenced and invisible.

We are Familias Unidas por la Justicia.

We are 300+ predominantly Triqui and Mixteco people; Spanish is our second or third language.

We travel with our families from California to pick berries throughout the West Coast.

Many of us have been coming to Skagit County to pick Strawberries, Blueberries, and Blackberries for Sakuma Bros. Farms for years.

Every year that we have been coming to Sakuma Farms we have tried to ask for better wages, housing, and treatment from the Sakuma Family.

After years of trying to change the conditions we felt it was necessary to organize into the Union that we are today to make a lasting impact.

Nobody has paid attention to the farm workers at Sakuma Berry Farms until now.”

Familias Unidas Por La Justicia, Statement to the Community (October 2013).

The struggle for a union contract with Sakuma is Familias Unidas Por La Justicia’s. The work we do as Students for Farmworker Justice in solidarity with Familias Unidas is to promote the consumer boycott of Sakuma products and Haagen Dazs (Haagen Dazs buys many of their berries from Sakuma). One of the ways we do this by reaching out to stores, informing the management of the boycott, and asking them to pull the berries. If the store does not pull the berries, we organize awareness-raising pickets aimed to inform the public of the boycott and to ask them not to purchase the products covered under the boycott.

" MY FOOD IS CRUELTY FREE "

- people who eat crops picked by under payed, overworked, exploited and abused poor migrant workers (via bertoltbrechtfast)

(via foucaultsbae)

The Puget Sound ILWU backs Familias Unidas Por La Justicia in their struggle for justice!

A Skagit County judge found that changes made this year to Sakuma’s housing policy were discriminatory and ruled that Sakuma could not close its labor camps to the families of farmworkers. The changed housing policy excluded the vast majority of farmworker families who have been working at Sakuma for many years now and who are members of Familias Unidas Por La Justicia.

Although the camps have many problems, which the farmworkers attempted to address last year during the course of the strikes, it is our belief that Sakuma changed the housing policy to exclude farmworkers who were attempting to organize.

This year, Sakuma applied for 438 guest workers under the H-2A program, claiming that sufficient local labor was unavailable (the only legal reason to apply for guest workers under H-2A). However, the more than 450 farmworker families who joined Familias Unidas last year had all been clear about their intent to re-apply and delivered signed letters to this effect in order to demonstrate that Sakuma had not looked for local labor before applying for guest workers. The Department of Labor found Sakuma’s application to be deficient in multiple regards, and Sakuma ultimately withdrew the application. We contend that Sakuma could not reasonably have believed that there was a real shortage of labor given the circumstances.

During negotiations with Familias Unidas last year, Sakuma promised that there would be no reprisals against workers who went on strike and that a new piece rate would be set through a collaborative process involving farmworkers. However, after these assurances were given, Sakuma sent private security forces to the workers’ labor camps and followed them on public marches, which a judge ruled was a violation of Washington State labor law, and Sakuma refused to pay the piece rate they had agreed on with Familias Unidas. It was not until after Sakuma broke their promises and ended negotiations that the workers, through Familias Unidas, called for a consumer boycott of Sakuma products until Sakuma signs a union contract with Familias Unidas Por La Justicia.

Familias Unidas Por La Justicia is a farmworkers’ union of over 450 indigenous Triqui and Mixteco farmworkers. It formed out of a series of strikes which began last year on July 11, 2013, after a worker at Sakuma Brothers was fired for demanding a higher piece rate. There were six strikes in total last year.

During last year’s strikes, the strike committee issued a list of 14 grievances/demands. On the list were: a higher piece rate which would enable workers to earn the minimum wage; to cease using electronic scanners which led to workers not being paid wages they were owed; to be paid overtime per state and federal law; an end to practices which violate the Civil Rights Act and state laws against harassment and hostile work environments; and respect for indigenous Triqui and Mixteco farmworkers, who allege that they are routinely called by racist slurs and treated with disrespect.

Sakuma Brothers is the largest berry farm in Skagit County and sells berries to Haagen Dazs ice cream. There is an ongoing labor dispute and boycott of Sakuma berries and Haagen Dazs ice cream until Sakuma Brothers signs a union contract with Familias Unidas Por La Justicia

It has been over a year now since the members of the union Familias Unidas por la Justicia went on strike demanding an end to wage theft, substandard housing, and racist abuse at Sakuma Brother’s Berry Farm. On Friday, July 11th hundreds of farm workers and community members who have pledged to act in solidarity with them came out full force to commemorate the day the strike began. The union’s messaging was clear: La Lucha Sigue (the struggle continues) until a contract is signed. Familias Unidas por la Justicia and their supporters (students, other unions, members of the Skagit Valley community) are dedicated to seeing this fight to the end. 

Our stance is not “WE LOVE BERRIES,” instead “We respect and recognize the dignity and rights of the women, men, children, and people who provide for us. We dedicate ourselves to supporting their struggle for just working conditions because that is what you do for friends, neighbors, and human beings.” 

Community is not about turning a blind eye to injustice. Holding one another accountable for the health and prosperity of every member is how communities are built and sustained.

Familias Unidas por la Justicia, now 500 members strong, is determined to protect the well-being and legal rights of its members. How anyone can be against that is baffling.

To keep up to date on the proceedings:

WWU Students for Farm Worker Justice on Facebook

Familias Unidas por la Justicia