The fields in Skagit Valley may be blooming for the upcoming tulip festival, but the farmworkers tending to them say there are serious issues with working conditions.
About 70 workers and members of the union Familias Unidas por la Justicia have gone on strike after what has been described as a “pay bonus mix-up” between two groups of workers, who say it has also happened in the past.
It comes one week before the popular Skagit Valley Tulip Festival begins April 1.
Marciano Sanchez, organizer for the union, spoke from the northwest Washington farm where the strike is taking place, about the Washington Bulb Company’s response to the wage issue.
“One of the only reasons that they noticed that there was an error on their part was because the workers decided to do a work stoppage and decided to go on strike,” Sanchez pointed out. “And there were news outlets that were here reporting on it and that’s the only reason why the company actually decided to check up into this.”
You Might Also Like: New State Law Means Workers Are ‘Silenced No More’ [AUDIO]
The Washington Bulb Company acknowledged the bonus-pay issue was an inadvertent error by its staff. The company said it resolved the issue and made the decision to compensate all groups at a higher bonus level.
But Sanchez said workers have concerns beyond the pay confusion.
“They wanted better working conditions, cleaner restrooms, and a better pay structure or, like, a higher bonus that they get paid,” Sanchez outlined.
Workers are also looking for an improved sick-leave policy and safer application of pesticides. The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival attracts thousands to the region during the month-long event.
Eric Tegethoff is a journalist covering the Northwest. Eric has worked as a reporter for KBOO, XRAY FM, and Oregon Public Broadcasting in Portland, Oregon, as well as other print and digital news media. In 2012, Eric traveled to North Dakota to write about the Bakken region oil boom. He’s also worked at a movie theater, as a campaign canvasser, and quality assurance at a milk packaging factory. Eric is originally from Orlando, Florida. He graduated from the University of Florida in 2010.
The above article was provided by Washington News Service. The Auburn Examiner has not independently verified its content.