Earlier this week, farm workers in Washington state began picking the new crop of strawberries. But this year, something was different for the pickers at Sakuma Brothers Farm: they have a union contract. That's a rarity among farm workers especially outside of the state of California, as many laws, often with long racist histories, make it so that standard labor protections that apply to most workers don't apply to those who grow our food.
Yet, working together, the mostly indigenous migrant workers organized their union, Familias Unidas por la Justicia. It's been a long struggle, but this season, berry pickers have a contract that guarantees them a fair rate per pound and a guaranteed minimum of $12/hour (WA state minimum wage is currently $11). The contract also outlines other specifics like grievance processes and other conditions.
Beyond these specifics, the contract represents a commitment between farm workers & management to work together towards shared goals of fair livelihoods for workers and a profitable farm for the future.
Over the past four years, so many in the community and the broader food movement have supported the berry pickers, signing petitions and acting in solidarity- let's take this moment to celebrate their victory. When we stand together and support those who are most marginalized, we really can work towards a more fair food system! See link in bio for perspectives from the union & the farm CEO on the history of the negotiations. 📸: David Bacon, amazing photographer of so many movements