Workers on Washington berry farms push for fair treatment

Blackberry Picking at Graysmarsh Farms

Photo by Flickr user iriskh, used under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Matthew Canfield recently contributed an article to Civil Eats on the efforts of berry pickers in Washington state to improve their working conditions. As he describes,

On July 10, Frederico Lopez couldn’t take it anymore. The berry picker says he was constantly barraged with verbal abuse by his supervisor, while earning only 30 cents per pound of berries. “It’s unjust to yell at us like we are animals, simply for asking for a fair wage” he told his supervisors that day….

On the hot summer day Lopez complained, he was given an eviction and a pink slip – a practice that would is routine in the fields. But on this day, Lopez’s co-workers took notice and decided not to return to work the next day. What has ensued has been an all-out labor dispute in a region widely known for its local food movement. As the farm workers press on to raise their working conditions, they are raising important questions about the priorities and social values of the burgeoning food movement.

The article is well worth a read: find the full post here. For some great reporting on wage theft in the produce-picking industry, check out this earlier post.

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