Last week's incident recalls teachers' protests in 2006, but with even more violence by police.
No matter whether they work in Washington State, California, or Mexico, blueberry pickers perform exhausting work. At Sakuma Farms in Washington State, indigenous farmworkers from Oaxaca must pick forty pounds of blueberries to earn $10 per hour. The company website says workers can make up to $40 a day, but that's only if they pick 100 pounds.
Felimon Piñeda and his family lived in a Sakuma camp for laborers. One worker said, “We were upset about the conditions in the camp. The mattress they gave us was torn and dirty, and the wire was coming out. There were cockroaches and rats. The roof leaked when it rained. They just put bags in the holes and it still leaked. All my children’s clothes were wet.”
In the summer of 2013, Sakuma workers went on strike and organized an independent union, Familias Unidas por la Justicia. During the strike, union president Ramón Torres met every night with the workers to report on negotiations and plan strategy. (L) Sakuma tried to bring in hundreds of guest workers under the H2-A visa program to replace the strikers. Striker Jose Galicia delivered petitions to the Department of Labor office in San Francisco to save Sakuma workers’ jobs. (R)
Sakuma Farms sells its berries through Driscoll’s, the world’s largest berry distributor. Joined by supporters along the Pacific Coast, workers are marching and have called for a "border to border" boycott until their union is recognized. (L) In the spring of 2015, berry pickers in northern Mexico went on strike to demand higher wages. Driscoll’s also sells the berries they pick, and they joined the boycott. They traveled in buses to the U.S. border to demand a union contract in Mexico, too. (R)