Ostrom Mushroom workers organized with UFW are demanding respect and union recognition
SEATTLE – The workers at Ostrom Mushroom Farms in Sunnyside, WA, are demanding a workplace free from threats, excessive pressure, harassment, and retaliation. A majority of workers have chosen to be represented by the United Farm Workers, but Ostrom management has refused to recognize their union.
Now the workers are asking retailers of Ostrom mushrooms to observe ethical purchasing practices. They are urging Metropolitan Market in Seattle to join in the struggle by telling Ostrom Mushrooms management that they must negotiate with the UFW, their workers’ union.
WHAT: Solidarity rally and press conference for Ostrom mushroom workers
WHEN: 11 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 20
WHERE: Outside Metropolitan Market, 100 Mercer St. in Seattle
VISUAL: Mushroom workers unionized with the UFW and supporters rallying with signs, calling on Ostrom customers like Met Market to urge the company to respect workers and recognize their union
Ostrom workers began their organizing drive in June 2022 with a petition signed by more than 200 workers demanding fair pay, safe working conditions, and respect. A democratically elected workers’ committee led a union drive to be represented by the UFW. Once the committee had a majority of workers supporting the union, they met with Ostrom management, securing back wages owed to many of the workers. Since this meeting, the Ostrom workers’ committee has organized a strong majority of workers supporting the union, including more than 100 workers who were unjustly fired from the company. Yet Ostrom still refuses to recognize or respond to the union’s communications.
In August, Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a civil lawsuit against Ostrom Mushroom Farms for discriminating against U.S. residents and women, abusing the H-2A system by systematically firing its majority-female Washington mushroom pickers and replacing them with H-2A foreign agricultural workers who were mostly male, and retaliating against workers who spoke out.
“We are fighting for a voice at work,” said Jose Martinez, a worker committee member who has worked for Ostrom for more than two years. “We have come together to demand better working conditions. We will not stop fighting. We are just getting started, we demand to be treated like human beings.”