Meet FUJ, the nation’s newest farmworkers’ union
They got no support from the United Farm Workers (UFW), because the UFW is in cahoots with a big retailer.
So the workers at Sakuma Brothers, a supplier of Driscoll’s berries, voted to set up their own union.
After three years of organizing, the Sakuma workers in Washington State voted to formally organize FUJ: Familias Unidas por La Justicia (Families United for Justice).
Ramon Torres heads the grassroots union. He used to work in the Sakuma berry fields, but “was fired after the pickers went on strike in 2013, David Bacon reports in The Nation.
“Familias Unidas por la Justicia is the first union organized by farmworkers in the United States in many years,” according to the article. The ballot count, on the tailgate of a pickup truck belonging to a state senator, showed the workers voting 195 to 58 to join FUJ.
“The union is a grassroots organization formed by the pickers themselves, and is led by indigenous Mixtec and Triqui migrants from the southern Mexico states of Oaxaca, Guerrero and Chiapas. A union contract at Sakuma Brothers could give this union the stability and resources needed to make substantial changes in the economic conditions of its own members, and of farm workers across western Washington,” according to The Nation.
Workers frustrated with unfair treatment are likely to take inspiration from the new farmworkers’ union. “This is a new dawn,” FUJ leader Torres told The Nation. “When we were celebrating afterwards, people began saying, ‘From now on we know what the future of our children is going to be.’”
Driscoll’s is the largest berry distributor in the world,” according to the article. “It does not grow its own berries, but controls berry production by contracted farmers. It has contracted growers in several countries, and has received loans guaranteeing foreign investment from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, a U.S. government agency.”
Now we see why UFW won’t criticize Driscoll’s or organize the workers there, and why it backed Hillary Clinton in the Democratic presidential campaign against Bernie Sanders.
Driscoll’s PR campaign makes company more vulnerable to boycott
Rosalinda Guillen, head of the Bellingham-based farmworker cooperative called Community2Community, tells The Nation that Driscoll’s expensive PR campaign exposes it more to a consumer boycott.
“It made the company more exposed, because of the way it markets itself,” the former UFW organizer said. She began helping the workers at Sakuma in 2013 – the year that workers at Gerawan Farming voted to de-certify the UFW. The State of California still refuses to count the Gerawan workers’ ballots after 3 years.