The struggle for a union contract with Sakuma is Familias Unidas Por La Justicia’s. The work we do as Students for Farmworker Justice in solidarity with Familias Unidas is to promote the consumer boycott of Sakuma products and Haagen Dazs (Haagen Dazs buys many of their berries from Sakuma). One of the ways we do this by reaching out to stores, informing the management of the boycott, and asking them to pull the berries. If the store does not pull the berries, we organize awareness-raising pickets aimed to inform the public of the boycott and to ask them not to purchase the products covered under the boycott.
A Skagit County judge found that changes made this year to Sakuma’s housing policy were discriminatory and ruled that Sakuma could not close its labor camps to the families of farmworkers. The changed housing policy excluded the vast majority of farmworker families who have been working at Sakuma for many years now and who are members of Familias Unidas Por La Justicia.
Although the camps have many problems, which the farmworkers attempted to address last year during the course of the strikes, it is our belief that Sakuma changed the housing policy to exclude farmworkers who were attempting to organize.
This year, Sakuma applied for 438 guest workers under the H-2A program, claiming that sufficient local labor was unavailable (the only legal reason to apply for guest workers under H-2A). However, the more than 450 farmworker families who joined Familias Unidas last year had all been clear about their intent to re-apply and delivered signed letters to this effect in order to demonstrate that Sakuma had not looked for local labor before applying for guest workers. The Department of Labor found Sakuma’s application to be deficient in multiple regards, and Sakuma ultimately withdrew the application. We contend that Sakuma could not reasonably have believed that there was a real shortage of labor given the circumstances.