Thursday, August 23, 2018

Resistance and perseverance / Late August 2018 under a smoke-filled sky in Whatcom County

(photo from Bellingham Herald)

Article from Seattle Times, August 21, 2018:

"... The workers sought to have a Northwest farmworker union, Familias Unidas por la Justica, represent them in the negotiations, but farm owner Gurjant Sandhu rejected that request, according
to Edgar Franks, a Community to Community Development staffer who says he was present when that request was made ..."

And one year ago, a farm worker, Honesto Silva Ibarra, 28, of Mexico, died after working under unhealthy conditions in Whatcom County that were the result of dense smoky air from wildfires in British Columbia.  Last year, 70 workers were fired after demonstrating in response to unhealthy working conditions and the death of their fellow farm worker.

We draw our strength from the very despair in which we have been forced to live. We shall endure. (Cesar Chavez)

To make a great dream come true, the first requirement is a great capacity to dream; the second is persistence. (Cesar Chavez)

Further -- email received just now, 11:21 a.m., August 23, 2018:

THANK YOU! Continued community action needed
Dear supporters,
Thank you to everyone in the community who responded to the farmworkers' call for justice at Crystal View Raspberry Farm. After the combined power of two days of the farmworkers' work stoppage, the presence of Familias Unidas por la Justicia and C2C, and a successful solidarity picket, Crystal View Farm reinstated the suspended workers and paid all of the 90+ H2A workers their owed wages, including giving them paycheck stubs! This has never happened before! We are monitoring the situation to make sure the rest of the workers' demands are met, and the union, Familias Unidas por la Justicia President Ramon Torres remains in close communication with the worker elected committee. We ask that you stay updated in case there is retaliation against these elected farmworker leaders.
We are humbled by the community's response to crises when farmworkers are in need. For the time being, the workers have asked us to stop collecting and delivering food or clothing donations.
Please watch this short video of C2C farmworker organizer Edgar Franks sharing a more detailed update about the victory, and follow our Facebook page to stay informed about the farmworker movement.
We must keep the momentum going. These horrifying injustices perpetuated by the use of the exploitative H2A program are now an ongoing pattern in Washington State, as H2A workers are being poisoned and injured, dying for the profit of agribusiness. Take action to right a great wrong!
En Solidaridad,
C2C Team

  • Call wafla (360) 455-8064 Dan Fazio's wafla is the labor contracting firm that recruited these workers in Mexico and Guatemala, transported them to the US, and abandoned them to the whims of an abusive farmer. George Sandhu, owner of Crystal View, held them hostage without pay or food or safe housing conditions, and denied them access to health care, clean drinking water, and community assistance such as the Food Bank. DEMAND that wafla honor the terms of the Crystal View contract that was made with the workers. There should be no retaliation on behalf of wafla for workers standing up for their rights while wafla was absent.
  • Call Governor Inslee (360) 902-4111 -- DEMAND he convene a task force to fully investigate the well documented negative impacts of the H2A guestworker program to farmworkers in WA State.
  • Call the WA State Dept of Labor and Industries (360) 902-5584 -- ask to be transferred to Director Joel Sacks DEMAND they conduct an immediate review of Crystal View Farms H2A contracts, addressing all of the complaints and demands from the workers. This investigation needs to include a process for FUJ to be receiving weekly updates; explain that the agency failed miserably regarding Sarbanand and we demand a faster and more transparent process that includes the union!
Farmworkers' lives are at stake and we demand a response from Labor and Industries!


beth coyote said...

It rained here last night!!! Skies are clearer. And it's cooler. We're grateful for rain right now.

37paddington said...

Thank you for bearing witness as you do. Love.

ellen abbott said...

why is it so hard for human beings to treat each other with respect and kindness.

Tara said...

It's all about the profit. People don't matter to people who care only for money.

Those Chavez quotes, wow. Yes, when you have nothing left to lose, you resist at any personal cost. You literally have nothing left to lose.

The skies up there are terrible -- to make people perform farm labor under those smokey conditions is criminal.

Hope your skies clear up soon. We are suffering down here as well. It's bound to go on for awhile. Thanks for the information on the farmworkers. I'll check out the links.

Sabine said...

We had about 15 min of rain and stopped talking so we could listen to this wonderful sound.
Then a friend called from Berlin where the smells from distant forest fires are in the air.
So strange.

bev said...

Thanks for writing about the farm workers, am. A couple of years ago, I watched a good documentary -- The Harvest (Spanish: La Cosecha) - a 2010 documentary film about agricultural child labour. The working conditions for all the workers were terrible, and there are a lot of children working in the fields as well.