U.S.: Sakuma opens door for potential union recognition
Sakuma Brothers Farms will hold a secret ballot vote so its workers can decide if they want to be represented by Familias Unidas por la Justicia (FUJ).
A Washington State berry producer has made a bold move in what has been one of the most controversial labor relations disputes of recent times in the produce industry.
NGO Fair World Project has been leading a boycott against Sakuma and the multinational berry company it supplies, Driscoll's, in response to the grower's lack of recognition of the union FUJ.
Now, Sakuma CEO Danny Weeden is making good on that claim, having delivered a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to the FUJ which establishes a process for a secret ballot election to enable seasonal harvest employees to freely choose whether they want the union's representation.
The MoU was delivered on June 27, and a Sakuma spokesperson told www.freshfruitportal.com the two parties will meet on July 14 to discuss the MoU and decide on a timeline.
If FUJ is elected, the MOU further provides a means for Sakuma and FUJ to negotiate and implement a binding agreement.
“Through this MOU, we have established a process to allow to our employees the ability to exercise their freedom of choice through a secret ballot election process managed by a neutral third party," Weeden said in a release.
"I insist on this because my concern, now and always, is for the security and rights of Sakuma’s harvest employees.
"It is important to me that our employees have the opportunity to decide whether or not they want to pay FUJ to be their representative. We are taking a leadership position on this issue to ensure our employees have the right to make their own decisions."
While agricultural unions are not recognized by Washington or federal law, the MOU provides a transparent secret ballot election process for Sakuma Brothers Farms’ harvest employees to decide whether they want to be represented by FUJ.
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