Farmworkers Fight For Food And Job Justice

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Above Photo: Taken by David Bacon

Note The average lifespan for a farm worker in the United States is 49 years old. That is a shocking reality. Many start working when they are very young, 12 to 14 years old, and work their whole lives doing harsh labor for long hours with very low poverty-pay. Their living conditions are poor and they are exposed to toxic pesticides every day. Food justice needs to be incorporated into our lives — from farm workers to the table if we create food justice we are all better off. Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese these issues with two farm worker advocates who are challenging the corporate food regime, Rosalinda Guillen and Edgar Franks of Food Justice, on Clearing the FOG Radio.

Farmworkers Month Long Tour To Promote Boycott Of Driscoll’s Berries

Burlington, WA- Familias Unidas por la Justicia (FUJ) an independent farmworker union comprised of 450 migrant farmworkers based in Burlington is embarking on a month long tour throughout the West Coast to organize a major offensive against the Ag giant Driscoll’s Berries. After two and half years of waging a historic fight to end wage theft, poverty wages, inhumane production standards, and retaliation for organizing at Driscoll’s supplier Sakuma Bros Berry Farm, the workers have decided to make a concerted effort to dramatically expand the strength of the boycott so they can win a union contract at Sakuma this summer. To kick off the month long tour that will stop in 16 different cities the workers plan to hold a press conference with strong visual imagery outside of the Sakuma Processing plant at 10 AM on Thursday March 17th, 17400 Cook Road Burlington WA 98233

The tour marks a turning point from a localized fight in Washington state to an international effort of two independent farmworker unions to take on the corporate food regime and put farmworker justice and transformation of the food system back into the minds and actions of U.S consumers. After fighting primarily in Washington state with little national attention, international grassroots interest in the boycott of Driscoll’s berries exploded last March when 80,000 farmworkers in San Quintin Mexico launched a general strike, formed an independent union, Sindicato Independiente Nacional Democrático de Jornaleros Agrícolas (National Democratic Independent Farmworker Union) and endorsed the consumer boycott of Driscoll’s.

In a pact of solidarity the two independent unions have agreed that neither will sign union contracts with their respective Driscoll’s suppliers unless the other union is signing a contract as well. At the same time that the Familias Unidas delegation holds their press conference at Sakuma to begin the tour thousands of workers in Mexico will be setting out on foot in a four-day march from San Quintin to the US Mexico border to commemorate the one year anniversary of their strike.

Throughout the tour the workers plan to share the story of their struggle and in the tradition of Cesar Chavez organize grassroots boycott committees that will promote the boycott on an ongoing basis until both unions have contracts signed.

“As long as Driscoll continues the exploitation of workers in Mexico and the US we will fight for the well-being of our families with the boycott, Boycott Driscolls!” said Felimon Pineda, VP of Familias Unidas por la Justicia.

In the United Sates the average life span of a farmworker is only 49 years. “Conditions for farmworkers in the United States are just as bad or worse then they were during Cesar’s time”, says Rosalinda Guillen a farmworker and organizer who grew up working in the Skagit Valley.