Labor Day brings us to reflect on the rights of workers. I’ve had opportunities to listen to farm worker stories over the decades, most recently from the independent union, Familias Unidas por la Justicia (Families United for Justice) in Skagit County, who have been in a labor dispute with Sakuma Brothers Farms since 2013. Many farm workers at Sakuma struggle to pick the quota to receive minimum wage. One recent example was Sakuma’s quota of 22.5 pounds of blueberries picked per hour to guarantee $10 an hour. Workers walked out three days in a row and finally Sakuma brought the quota down to 16.5 pounds. Every year this dance happens, rather than the security of a legally-binding, written, negotiated contract.
By age 12, farm workers start abusing their bodies, working long hours at break-neck speed, unable to fully support themselves. Familias Unidas asks that we support worker justice. We can all help by supporting farm workers calling for better wages, respect, and safety in the work place. You can do this by buying products from companies and farmers that pay their workers just wages. Ask your local grocer to supply the same.