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Monday, June 2, 2014

Sakuma Brothers Farms Drops Application For Guest Workers

Posted by on Mon, Jun 2, 2014 at 4:44 PM

Farmworkers negotiating with Sakuma Farms management
  • Tomas Madrigal
  • Farmworkers negotiating with Steve Sakuma last year during a walkout.

Fresh on the heels of a defeat in the courts last week, Sakuma Brothers Farms (an hour north of Seattle near Mount Vernon) has abruptly dropped its attempt to displace local migrant farmworkers with guest workers imported from Mexico. In a statement, the farm says it notified the federal government over the weekend that it is withdrawing from the H2-A guest worker program.

"It was sobering to witness the protests against our family-owned business and hear calls for a boycott against our berries,” said the co-owner Steve Sakuma, a reference to calls for a boycott by Familias Unidas por la Justicia, a newly formed union of berry pickers, many of whom participated in a series of wildcat strikes on the farm last year. "But, even though we have been in business for nearly 80 years, we listened to our critics and we recognized that we could do better."

"Familias is ready to go work tomorrow," Rosalinda Guillen, a Skagit Valley-based labor activist who's been supporting the union, tells me by phone, "if he calls them...We’re more than willing to support family farms and agro-corporations doing the right thing. His position is the right position on the H-2A program. But what’s his position on his workers organizing?"

I put the question to Sakuma Brothers Farms by e-mail and will update when I hear back.


Comments (6) RSS

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TVDinner 1
Wow, that picture speaks a thousand words.
Posted by TVDinner http:// on June 2, 2014 at 6:34 PM · Report this
The struggle isn't done until a contract is reached between workers and Sakuma, one that is just and won't be violated. But this is huge victory for the farmworkers! Woot
Posted by justiceforworkers on June 2, 2014 at 7:44 PM · Report this
Ansel, this isn't getting many comments. Maybe make this sexier by injecting a cycle-track/class warfare slant to it.

Posted by __(354EAFJ2# on June 3, 2014 at 12:09 AM · Report this
Ballard Pimp 4
Progress too often comes slowly, but it comes when people work together.
Posted by Ballard Pimp on June 3, 2014 at 1:37 AM · Report this
The interests of immigrants directly contradict the interests of resident labor. I prefer the Kochs
Posted by alfresco on June 3, 2014 at 10:30 PM · Report this
An Update from Familias Unidas por la Justicia (FUJ): After renovating all the labor camps (one of FUJ's demands) Sakuma is now saying that only men can live in the labor camps, not families, and especially not children who are too young to work. Its being challenged in court, but if it succeeds it will effectively exclude hundreds of workers because Sakuma pays too low of wages for them to afford housing in Mt Vernon or transportation to the farm. The fight is far from over.
Posted by Eckelsa on June 5, 2014 at 2:53 PM · Report this

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