IWW Picket Line—Fairhaven Haggen Food & Pharmacy in Bellingham
Saturday, February 21 and March 21, 1:00 – 2:30 pm
Whoever shops for food and cooks their own meals using fresh produce has farm workers to thank. Besides the long backbreaking hours grinding through the rich Washington soil these workers face another struggle. They hope for a decent life for their families, depending for their livelihood on labor in the age of austerity. The beginnings of a new labor union established by the farm workers themselves is standing up to make itself heard.
Familias Unidas por la Justicia
Ramon Torres is the president of Familias Unidas. He met with the Bellingham branch, Industrial Workers of the World on January 18th to request help on the picket lines in the upcoming dispute. Ramon said, “The workers hope for $15 an hour, medical insurance, and a better life for their families. Workers are scared because myself and other organizers have been fired already,” Ramon continued. “But we want to help all the farm workers who don’t get treated well. Also, oyster farm workers on the beaches have no restrooms and they must wait on the beach without pay until the tide goes down.”
Ramon came to the local IWW branch to help build local support for the union. The IWW branch voted to join the picket lines. Also supporting Familias Unidas are the local Jobs with Justice, Western Washington University Students for Farmworker Justice, and Community to Community.
“Respect the families who grow your food”
Grievances with Sakuma Brothers Berries include unpaid wages, draconian operation of their housing camp, and illegal attempts to import guest workers. Without a fair contract the union is forced to call for a boycott of Sakuma Brothers, Haagen Das ice cream, and Driscoll’s strawberries. “Since the farm owners are attempting to import guest workers again this year,” says Ramon, “we must ask for boycott of strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries against Haagen Das, Dricoll, and Sakuma.”
The workers do not want to boycott and strike, they simply want to work and raise healthy families. But the repeated abuses by farm owners have forced them to conclude that a union contract is the only way they know to create decent conditions for their families.
More detailed and up to date information on the union’s conditions and status can be found at: boycottsakumaberries.com.
The Frizzells, transplants from Texas and Michigan, are happy to be in the Olympia progressive community.