Save Family Farming sent Gov. Jay Inslee a letter April 23, regarding a lawsuit that is intended to harm the guest worker program and our country’s food security during a global pandemic. Here is the letter we sent:
Dear Governor Inslee:
Washington farmers and their employees have been declared essential workers by the federal government. Washington farmers have continued to work hard during this pandemic to provide much needed food for our state, nation and world. In doing so, they have worked with great diligence and commitment to protect their highly valued employees from illness. They have carefully complied with the state requirements and often have gone beyond that. Farmers at farm workers have been speaking out about the protections that have been put in place in series of videos we have published on our website at savefamilyfarming.org.
Extremist labor activists, particularly Rosalinda Guillen and Ramon Torres, are calling for a shutdown of the guest workers permitted by the federal government to help harvest our crops. While their public appeal is to stop all guest workers, their lawsuit would result in the loss of about 11,000 guest workers either already here or arriving soon. This would hit our state’s apple crop particularly hard as about 70% of the guest workers are needed to harvest our state’s leading farm product. We estimate if successful this legal action would result in the loss of 5 billion apples at a time when they are needed most, in addition to much more fruits and farm products.
These groups are hypocritical. Rosalinda Guillen and Ramon Torres have not demanded for domestic workers what they are demanding for guest workers. Perhaps they do not want to lose the revenue they receive if half the workers under their labor agreement are forced to stop work. Their actions against guest workers demonstrate that their concern is not for the safety of workers but only to promote their long-standing agenda of ending or limiting guest workers in our state to promote their ability to extract pay from workers’ paychecks. The UFW in addition has faced far more decertification votes in California than certification and now represents fewer than 1% of California farm workers. Former UFW employees say the union treats their own employees worse than the farms they try to organize, evidenced by the $2 million the union had to pay out in 2017 for wage theft, penalties and legal fees when sued by their own employees. The hypocrisy is more than evident. Washington farm workers neither need nor want these groups involved. Don’t take our word for it, ask them yourself.
Rosalinda Guillen, FUJ and UFW are experts at generating press and securing support from those who look to unions for major campaign contributions. But your duty is to the citizens of this state. The jobs offered by farmers are much needed to lift workers’ families out of poverty and these hard-working employees are essential to provide food for our communities and nation. Now is the time to show strong leadership and reject the cynical opportunism of these groups looking to limit access to farm workers and interfere with an essential federal program.
President, Save Family Farming
Executive Director, Save Family Farming