Save Family Farming statement on Washington Bulb Company’s worker situation
March 23, 2022
The widely publicized protest against Skagit County flower grower Washington Bulb fits the pattern of false accusations established by Rosalinda Guillen and her organizations, Community to Community Development and her farm worker organization called Familias Unidas por la Justicia or FUJ.
Previous actions by Guillen and her team include Sakuma Brothers Farms, in Skagit County, Sarbanand blueberry farm in Whatcom County, and several fruit growers in Eastern Washington.
Guillen and her organizations have repeatedly made false accusations against farms in Washington in an attempt to bully them into accepting their demands for monetary settlements and labor contracts taking money from workers’ paychecks to fund the groups’ ongoing activism. They have repeatedly intimidated workers into joining their phony protests and have brought in non-employees to pose as protesting workers to boost their numbers.
False accusations include knowingly and repeatedly claiming that a farm caused the death of one of its workers despite state investigations showing that claim was false, accusing farms of “third world” working housing despite completely new and fully inspected housing, and accusing farmers of improper care for workers during the pandemic.
Guillen and other members of her team have continued to falsely claim Sarbanand “murdered” a farm worker in Sumas, WA in 2017, despite three separate investigations by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries clearing the farm of any wrongdoing in the worker’s tragic death. Officials determined his death to be from natural causes.
Further showing how their blindly extremist positions are detrimental to the community, Guillen and her team attempted to shutter an emergency shelter for disaster victims following devastating Northwest Washington floods in November 2021. They pressured local officials to defund it, falsely accusing Sarbanand Farms, who generously opened their seasonally shuttered worker housing facilities for homeless victims of the flooding, of attempting to “profit” from the disaster.
In the spring of 2020, Guillen called for state officials to stop guest workers from entering the state to harvest fruit which would have devastated farms and eliminated much of the state’s fruit harvest. It would also have taken away thousands of farm jobs. When this failed, she tried to stop farm workers from using housing provided by farmers. Her political gamesmanship risked thousands of farmworkers’ access to safe, employer-provided and government-approved housing.
FUJ and Community to Community Development have also made multiple false accusations against Washington farms regarding worker wages, in several cases staging public protests at farms despite Washington farms providing some of the highest farmworker pay in the nation.
Farmworkers working under the guest worker program are paid a minimum wage this year of $17.41 per hour. All domestic workers working on the same farm and doing the same job are paid the federal required pay. Farms also must provide free government inspected housing, subsidized meals, free transportation and other benefits.
Guillen and her groups continue to falsely call the federal H2-A guest worker program “exploitative” and unregulated, despite the facts that show the program to be among the most highly-regulated employment in the nation.
Costing farm worker jobs
Guillen and team’s actions have been devastating to many farm workers. One farm which had employed over 600 seasonal farm workers converted to machine fruit harvesting with the loss of about 400 jobs. The option for these workers is to work on Mexican farms where the minimum wage is $11 per day, compared to the average earnings of $20 to $25 per hour with incentive pay.
Her efforts to stop or restrict guest farm workers during the pandemic if successful would have caused a devastating loss of income to the thousands of workers in countries like Mexico who depend on these jobs.
A notice to media and those who share false information on social media
Save Family Faming can substantiate all the claims of dishonesty leveled against Guillen, Torres, Franks and more. We can provide video of testimony to the legislature where notoriously false information was provided. We strongly encourage all news media outlets to get the facts before publishing or broadcasting the false accusations of Guillen and her team. It is our commitment to help the community and those interested in knowing who is to be believed.
For documentation of the abuses by this group and other activists: https://savefamilyfarming.org/farmworker-protection/