WHEREAS, the 40th LD Democrats are concerned for the interests and needs of working people in the 40th LD as well as in Washington State; and
WHEREAS, Sarbanand Farms, owned by Munger Farms in Delano, California and itself a member of a grower cooperative Naturipe, has endangered the lives of farm workers at its Sumas, WA farm because of degraded living and working conditions, including inadequate and potentially contaminated food, inadequate water, no access to health care, inadequate work breaks and working in dangerous environmental conditions that included high temperatures and extreme air pollution resulting from forest fires; and
WHEREAS, farmworker Honesto Silva Ibarra died due to these dangerous conditions and many other farmworkers fell ill due to the same conditions; and
WHEREAS, more than 70 workers hired as H-2A guest worker walked out of Sarbanand Farms to protest the degraded working and living conditions and the death of their fellow farmworker; and
WHEREAS, Sarbanand Farms employs 519 farmworkers in Sumas, WA hired through H-2A visas and recruited from Mexico and the legal requirements of the H-2A visas prohibits striking, forming a union, or seeking other employment if the workers want to leave Sarbanand Farms, and the employer holds the visas of the workers, thereby prohibiting them from legally leaving their worksite, creating a condition of virtual slavery; and
WHEREAS, the H-2A visa program is an unsustainable practice that hurts local economies by benefiting large farms that have the resources to contract H-2A workers at the expense of small family farms and permits farms with a history of systemic wage theft, labor rights violations, and retaliation against workers to continue these practices because workers can be easily replaced and there is little oversight to ensure worker safety and protection of labor rights; and
WHEREAS, there are built-in incentives to hire guest workers rather than local or domestic farm workers because employers who hire guest workers are exempt from paying social security and unemployment taxes; and
WHEREAS, the H-2A visa program harms all workers in a community by lowering working standards and putting all power in the hands of the employer; and
WHEREAS, Familias Unidas por la Justicia, a local farmworker union of the Pacific Northwest that has given material and nonmaterial support to the former Sarbanand workers has called for a boycott of Sarbanand Farm berries marketed under the Naturipe brand until Sarbanand Farms negotiates a contract with Familias Unidas por la Justicia that includes the establishment of a worker committee and union oversight over food, housing, working conditions, rest periods, all necessary medical care, a fair disciplinary process and a starting wage of $15 per hour.
THEREFORE, be it resolved that the 40th LD Democrats support the efforts of Familias Unidas por la Justicia in their campaigns to improve the lives and working conditions of farmworkers in Northwest Washington; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the 40th LD Democrats endorse the boycott of Naturipe Berries until Sarbanand Farm meets the conditions set forth above in negotiating a contract with Familias Unidas por la Justicia and calls on its member affiliates to honor this boycott.
Approved on December 13, 2017.
EXECUTIVE BOARD MEMBERS PRESENT: Tara Nelson, Alex Arriaga, Janet McKinney, Todd Lagestee, Rosemary Ryan, Rocio Lopez, Denise Mecum, Maggie DeGregorio.
Submitted by Janet McKinney