Farmworkers Reach $850k Settlement with Sakuma Brothers Farms Over Unpaid Wages and Breaks


The reality is that while this agreement amount may seem large, nearly half of it was demanded as fees for the workers’ attorneys.

Amusing snipe at the workers' lawyers. How much did Sakuma Bros. pay their lawyers?

Yes, it would have been nice if the lawyers' cut had been smaller. But that doesn't diminish from the workers' victory.

Given the high cost of Washington real estate, it's hard to imagine why any of it still exists as farmland.
CLS should next go after cheapjack Tim Keck and the Stranger for their exploitation and wage theft of the unpaid interns.

Unreported by Slog?

Sakuma will no longer employ local high school kids as summer workers because of a federal requirement related to migrant work visas that require kids to be paid $11.23 per hour. 300 kids in Skagit Valley have no summer employment.

Sakuma has adopted a policy this season that only only men can stay in the migrant housing this summer. Not women and families. Next year, when the migrant families don't want to be split-up, and can't work anywhere else, good luck. And so, Sakuma will apply for H2-A guest visas for Mexicans, and while the liberal litigators are counting their bar tab, and the college-educated activists are editing their documentary of The Great Victory, the laborer will be reminded that government isn't going to help, and every action has a reaction.

Would've expected more from The Strangers unpaid journalism interns. #irony…
Try again.

There was at best flimsy evidence of labor abuse (note this was a private civil suit, not a government regulatory action.) The "case" was settled through voluntary arbitration -- not court -- for a nuisance amount (the attorneys claiming a ton of the pay) by a company that was smart enough to calculate opportunity costs.

Sakuma only suffers from being one of the largest private agribusinesses close to the Seattle media market.

The more that radicalized liberals think they are winning -- the less they realize how badly the world is turning against them. When Sakuma sells, tired of your nonsense, and the Skagit is paved for strip malls, you'll all be scrapping over $15 an hour (massively diluted in its buying power due to deficit spending) unable to find enough hours (Obamacare kicks in a 30 hrs) to pay off the student loans whose amounts were bloated by the carrying cost of state-employed tenured professors and unionized associate professors.

Welcome to economics.
Well Zok, aren't you a prize.
I was surprised to see Sakuma branded strawberries for sale at Whole Foods today.
I feel that the workers at this particular farm were empowered by their involvement with the research work Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies. The same abuses are occurring all across the Skagit and beyond. I really hope this trend continues, and the first up is awareness. Thank you for reporting, Ansel.
@11 Every slog commenter wants you to shut the fuck up forever, so please do so.
@13 seconded

You would be wrong about that. Sakuma appeared before the judge (Cook, Skagit SC) on the matter of not rehiring workers who didn't show up to work during a strike action. Sakuma lost.

On the matter of housing, the judge ruled in Sakumas favor. (Note, Sakuma just spent $250,000 remodeling the housing.)

So, the rulings before the bench are all tied, 1:1.

The lawyer-friendly case (brought by private parties, not a regulatory agency who woulda' jumped all over it), resulted in a paltry "cheaper to settle than to fight" settlement.

So, to be clear – hardly the noble case and clear victories you'd make them out to be.

Nowhere did I say I hate Mexicans. In fact, I admire the Mexican people who come to this country seeking a better life. Our cities could learn a little something from the ethos of the migrant farmworkers, and guest workers. I'm all for structured immigration reform. I believe there should be transparency to who works, when, where and for how much. But I also think that private business owners have rights, and that government has WAY too much involvement, frustrating the liberty of both employers and workers to prosper in a free market.

You don't like the "free market," because you see the failing system we have today as representing "a free market." In fact, government has become so large in your everyday life that we no longer recognize the distortion.

This year we'll be 50 years into liberalism's Great Society experiment. How is liberalism working out for you all?


Any discussion? Hearing none, I call the question.
@11 you are on your own. A perfect day on Slog would be:

1. Something hard hitting from Ansel
2. Something hard hitting from Dominic
3. Something hard hitting from Anna
4. Something hard hitting from Goldy (yes, yes)

Slog would be better if the ratio of news to arts was 2:1 or 3:1 in favor of news, especially local news.
This is solid reporting on an important issue: the workers and growers that help drive our state's economy. Employers need to play by the rules and when they slip up, workers should have the right to challenge them. In this case, the workers won a major settlement, despite Sakuma's best efforts to spin it in their favor. Plus, their bad math: half of a million dollars isn't half of $850,000, it's half of a million. There's a lot of momentum for workers going on in WA state right now and that's a good thing for all of us if we want a more inclusive, equitable society. (Except for maybe the Koch Brothers.)
"In another victory for migrant farmworkers" ... how can *not* bringing in H2 guest workers be a victory for migrant farm workers? All those that wanted to come under the H2 program don't get to. That one sounds like a clear *loss* to me, but then again, I'm not a Honduran looking for economic opportunities in the Skagit Valley, so what do I know.
@19 Ummm, you just ignored the hundreds of farm workers who have lived in Skagit Valley for years and are experienced workers at Sakuma, ready to keep working. One recent decision required Sakuma to hire the local workers who are ready to work, even if they protested last season. This settlement requires Sakuma to pay for the work that these workers worked. Track hours worked better. Allow reasonable breaks.

That's what any sensible person would call "another victory for migrant farm workers."
@20 the linked "previous victory" was solely about H2 guest workers.

America, the land of opportunity for settled migrants. But not new ones.
As a previous management member of Sakuma Farms, I can tell you from direct experience the pickers and factory workers at Sakuma's ( and other farms) work harder than any of you could ever do. Conditions are deplorable, unless you love dragging thru the pesticide coated dirt and mud all day with limited bathroom breaks and no time to "leave the field" for lunch break. For dinner, how about some cockroaches from your "free housing facilities." ?
Finding labor would not be an issue if growers were willing to pay equitable wages and treat people like human beings. And pay all the wages due !
Believe me, this family is filty rich and could certainly afford to treat their workers much better !
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