Elected, Community, Faith, and Labor Leaders join UFW National President Arturo Rodriguez, Incoming President Teresa Romero, LULAC President Domingo Garcia, and farm workers from across the state
SEATTLE — UFW President Arturo Rodriguez will lead hundreds of workers and community, elected, faith, and labor leaders in a Fast for Reconciliation in response to Darigold’s lack of action addressing working conditions and resolving a retaliatory lawsuit against workers known as the Darigold Dozen.
Following in the tradition of César Chávez, farmworkers and coalition allies will fast in front of Darigold’s Georgetown-neighborhood Seattle headquarters from Thursday, September 20th through Monday, September 24th. Farmworkers will join UFW President Rodriguez, incoming UFW President Teresa Romero, LULAC National President Domingo Garcia, and a coalition of over 100 workers and supporters at a press conference to begin the fast on September 20th.
|September 20th, 2018 at 12:00 PM|
|Darigold Headquarters, 5601 6th Ave. South, Seattle, WA 98108|
|UFW President Arturo Rodriguez
Incoming UFW President Teresa Romero
LULAC National President Domingo Garcia
WA State Labor Council Secretary Treasurer Lynne Dodson
Teamsters 117 Secretary Treasurer John Scearcy
Church Council of Greater Seattle Executive Director Michael Ramos
Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant
Burien City Councilmember Pedro Olguin
State Representative Strom Peterson
On September 10th, a Superior Court Judge ruled in favor of 7 former Darigold workers, deciding that Ruby Ridge, a Darigold member dairy, violated the law by failing to provide workers with mandated work breaks. 12 farm workers, known as the Darigold Dozen, have filed a lawsuit that Ruby Ridge also illegally withheld their legally mandated meal periods. 1.
Following the filing of the lawsuit, Ruby Ridge fired the Darigold Dozen and countersued them along with United Farm Workers in apparent retaliation. Workers and UFW see Ruby Ridge’s countersuit as an attempt to silence future dairy workers who wish to speak out about mistreatment they’ve suffered at Darigold dairies.
The Darigold Dozen’s claims are not unique. Darigold dairies have paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars as a result of other lawsuits by farmworkers. The dairy industry in is among the state’s most dangerous, as data from Washington’s Department of Labor and Industries puts the injury rate on dairies at 121%, higher than all industries combined and 19% higher than other agriculture work.
Over 90% of Washington’s dairies supply Darigold, and in turn Darigold supplies many major retailers including Costco, QFC, Starbucks, and Walmart.
On Monday, the Seattle City Council unanimously passed a resolution in support of the Darigold Dozen and the Fast for Reconciliation and calling on Darigold and companies purchasing their products to improve the working conditions at Darigold member dairies. The full resolution is available here.
Stencils placed in front of dozens of Seattle area Starbucks, one of the largest consumers of Darigold products, have led to additional statements of support for the Darigold Dozen and outcry against the employment practices of Darigold’s member dairies.
Fasting is a tool used sparingly by the UFW, reserved for critical moments of injustice. César Chávez’s first fast in 1968 lasted twenty-five days, focused on rededicating the farm worker movement to non-violent protest, and ended at a mass with thousands of supporters including Senator Robert F. Kennedy. Chávez fasted twenty-four days in 1972 over a state law restricting farmworker strikes and boycotts.
In 1988, Chávez participated in his final fast. In response to pesticides used on grapes that caused cancer and birth defects on farmworkers and their children, Chávez fasted for thirty-six days.
Former Darigold-member Dairy workers Maria Gonzalez and Yolanda Carrion will be in attendance at Thursday’s press conference. Maria Gonzalez made headlines when she won a $95,000 sexual harassment lawsuit against DeRuyter Brothers Dairy, a member of the Darigold cooperative. At two separate Darigold member dairies, Yolanda Carrion faced repeated sexual harassment and was fired by her abusers after reporting the most recent incidents.
For more information please visit darigold.ufw.org.
- On September 10, 2018,the judge found that Ruby Ridge failed to provide rest breaks to Ruby Ridge workers, but that on April 2, 2019, he reversed this decision and now says the issue must be decided by a jury.