Farm workers, Farm to Family Coalition members, and their supporters rallied at Darigold Corporate Headquarters in Seattle on Thursday to demand that the company put a stop to the abuse of workers on the farms that supply Darigold’s milk.
View photos from yesterday's rally.
Dairy workers, who had traveled from eastern Washington to attend the event, described squalid conditions on the farms. They spoke of rest and meal breaks denied by their employers, a lack of access to clean drinking water, and rampant wage theft.
"There is a lot of abuse directed at workers. They make us work for 10-12 hours and our checks would come out to 8 hours," said Rafael Munoz, who worked for three years at the Ruby Ridge Dairy in Mabton, WA.
"When we sought representation to help resolve these issues, we were fired." - Rafael Munoz, Farm Worker at Ruby Ridge Dairy
Standing in solidarity with the farm workers were members of several other unions and community organizations, including Teamsters 117, Teamsters 38, UFCW Local 21, UFCW Local 367, UNITE HERE Local 8, SEIU, the MLK County Central Labor Council, and others.
All of the participating organizations have joined forces to form a new Farm to Family Coalition that is committed to health and safety and fair labor standards across the food supply chain.
"Workers deserve humane working conditions, whether they work on the farms, in the processing plants, in the grocery warehouses, or in our neighborhood grocery store, and we will fight for that!" said Tracey A. Thompson, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters 117.
After the rally, the group marched around Darigold's corporate office building to the front entrance, where a delegation of workers requested to meet with representatives of the company to voice their grievances.
Farm workers have been trying to meet with Darigold since 2011, but the company has repeatedly ignored their requests. Yesterday, for the first time, representatives of the company, including Senior Vice President Steve Rowe, agreed to sit down with the workers and listen to their concerns.
At the meeting, farm workers insisted that Darigold take immediate action to end the abuse of workers on its suppliers' farms.
"Darigold has a moral obligation to ensure that workers across its supply chain are treated with dignity and respect. The company can no longer turn a blind eye to poor conditions on its suppliers' farms. Our community demands it," Thompson said.