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Boycott Sakuma Berries!

By A Abraham Chakur - Bellingham IWW, January 30, 2016

Farmworkers, often forgotten, have been routinely abused by employers for decades on both sides of the border of the U.S. and Mexico. Recently workers, mostly Indigenous Mexicans from Guerrero and Oaxaca have begun to rise up against the exploitation of the bosses. Entire families can be seen working in the fields, travelling thousands of kilometers with their families to Baja California and thousands more to work the fields of Washington state.

This spring working families San Quintin, Baja California rose up against poverty wages, poor standards of living and unsanitary working conditions. Coincidentally or perhaps indicative of Driscoll's near monopoly on the strawberry market, Sakuma Brothers farms in WA that are also sold under the Driscoll label. Berry pickers in Washington state have been organizing their own Union for better wages and conditions for the past few years and also went on strike this past spring after organizing for the past 4 years. Child labor laws and minimum wage laws do not cover farm labor and it is common to see children working in the fields. After an unprecedented settlement of $850,000 was reached in order to save Sakuma bros from admitting guilt, the growers have continued to retaliate against organizing workers by threats of intimidation from security guards, separating families into segregated housing and threats of deportation.

A boycott was called to reinforce the organizational efforts of Farmworkers Unions - Alianza de Organizaciones por la Justicia Social  in Mexico  and Familias Unidas por la Justicia in WA state. Driscoll's , Berry-Mex, Ranchos los Pinos and Haagen-Daz and Yoplait that contain Strawberries, Black berries and Raspberries. This spring, after years of support by the Bellingham I.W.W. branch, information pickets were held at Cost-co, Walmarts, and Whole Foods.  Other cities held summer long informational pickets in Detroit, MI and Kansas City, MO demanding that vendors not carry the exploitative brand. Workers again staged walk-outs during the course of the summer and even managed to organize workers from other farms. The boycott continued to grow with demonstrations held in 10 major US cities this August and in October both workers' Unions and representatives met at the U.S.-Mexico border as a demonstration of International Solidarity.

After a proposal from Bellingham Wobblies was adopted at the I.W.W. general Convention, the One Big Union pledged its support to workers' at Familias Unidas and the Allianza. We urge you to support the People who bring food from the farm to market. Don't buy brands on the Boycott list, call Management at the vendors of their fruit and build local support. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

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