We All Have a Role
Five Lessons for Organizing Emerge from a Berry Farm
By Kerstin Lindgren
One of the most significant highlights of 2016, for me, was the phone call I received the night before Labor Day to inform me that Familias Unidas por la Justicia and Sakuma Brothers Farm had signed a legally binding agreement outlining how the two parties would settle a four-year-long labor dispute on Sakuma Brothers’ berry farm in Washington State. Sakuma Brothers is a major supplier to Driscoll’s, the largest distributor of berries in the world, and to Häagen-Daz ice cream brand, among others. Until this year, management at Sakuma had not recognized the farmworker union, undermining the spirit of freedom of association.
In May 2016, Fair World Project mobilized thousands of consumers and dozens of organizations to sign a petition and letter in solidarity with Familias Unidas. Following this, Fair World Project was invited to play a role in facilitating the dialogue between Familias Unidas and Sakuma Brothers Farm. The September agreement was a historical moment and outlined a way forward for both organizations. It focused their attention away from historic tensions and differences and toward their shared interest in the viability of the farm.
Kerstin Lindgren is campaign director with Fair World Project, an organization that educates and advocates for a more just global economy.