Sakuma Brothers workers set union vote, berry boycott ends

Sakuma Bros. Farms entrance. (Photo by Ashley Stewart)
Sakuma Bros. Farms entrance. (Photo by Ashley Stewart)

Workers at Sakuma Brothers Farms will vote on whether the union Familias Unidas por la Justicia will represent them in collective bargaining, the union announced over Labor Day weekend.

In its announcement of the vote, Familias Unidas por la Justicia (FUJ) also has called off its three-year boycott of Sakuma products and of Sakuma Brothers’ distributors. (However, others continue to call for a boycott of Driscoll’s, Sakuma Brothers’ main distributor, because of labor disputes in the San Quintin Valley in Baja California.)

Dear Supporters,
As of today, Sept. 4, 2016 Sakuma Brothers Farms and Familias Unidas por La Justicia have mutually agreed to conduct a secret ballot election within the next 8 days. The election will determine if the employees want to be represented by Familias Unidas por La Justicia in collective bargaining with Sakuma Farms. Thanks to your tireless efforts we are entering into this next phase of our union’s development with hope and determination. At this time we are calling for an end of the boycott, and all boycott activities. Out of respect for the process and our memorandum of understanding with the company please do not contact past, present or potential customers, purchasers, sellers or users of products coming from Sakuma Bros Berry Farm to convey criticism of any and all aspects of Sakuma’s business and operations.

Please stay tuned at the Familias Unidas por La Justicia Facebook page for updates.

Gracias,

Ramon Torres
Felimon Pineda
FUJ

FUJ has been pressing for a union contract, a $15-per-hour wage and improved working conditions at Sakuma Brothers’ Burlington farm.

Sakuma Brothers announced earlier this summer that the berry company, which started in the early 20th century and moved to Skagit Valley in the 1930s, had reached an agreement with FUJ to recognize the union if a majority of workers approved. According to the Capital Press, Sakuma’s announcement was made the same day that a judge ordered the company to pay legal fees in a class action labor lawsuit that was settled in 2014.

Previous coverage

Boycott berries? A third generation Sakuma Brothers worker weighs in

Sakuma speaks up: Farm labor pariah defends his family’s business

Who’s picking your produce?

Farm workers get a big payout, but state labor protections still failing

This story was updated with additional information about the labor dispute in San Quintin, Baja California. Information from previous Globalist articles was used in this report. 

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