June 10, 2016 Press Release, Familias Unidas por la Justicia
Increase Gained Not Enough
Familias Unidas por la Justicia Members Will Continue the Fight for Fair Wages and Union Contract
Burlington, WA — After receiving a $.04 increase per pound of strawberries, totaling now $0.28 per pound some members of Familias Unidas por la Justicia (FUJ) felt this was not enough and encouraged workers to walk out from the fields again this morning to try and gain at least another .04 per pound. “Yesterday 4 cents, today 4 cents more” shouted some members to the workers remaining in the fields. More than 20 workers walked out to announce they would pick to see if the berries once weighed at $0.28 per pound would yield a minimum wage of $9.47 per hour.
As of now workers remained in the Sakuma fields. “A walk out is the only way for Sakuma to listen and do what’s right, we would rather negotiate a union contract” said Jose Ramirez showing a handful of small sized strawberries to show why it is difficult to pick more than 30 pounds per hour to reach the minimum wage.
“We have to take these actions to prove we are not lying” said Benito Lopez through an interpreter, “we want fair wages and better conditions not only for us but for everybody working these fields”.
The union pledged to continue the struggle for living wages along with the ongoing demand for a union contract.
Since the summer of 2013 there have been at least 7 walkouts to demand an increase in wages, and farmworkers created FUJ to demand Sakuma to negotiate a union contract that includes labor protections, $15/hour minimum salary, allowing workers to take time off when ill, an end to intimidation, job security, better treatment of workers, respect, a clean workplace and improved housing conditions, and no yelling or threatening workers, among other demands.
Sakuma has refused to sit at the negotiation table, FUJ and their supporters have continued to promote and expand the boycott of both Sakuma Berries and Driscoll Berries, a buyer of Sakuma Bros Berry Farms, at both a national and international level.
For videos and pictures www.boycottsakumaberries.com