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Yakima Valley: The strike ended but the fight continues

Laura Garcia interviews Edgar Franks, Organizing Director of the Farmworkers Union Familias Unidas por la Justicia.  |  Issue: July 2020
Workers on strike for coronavirus

Yakima Valley: Workers on strike for coronavirus protection.
PHOTO: Edgar Franks

 

The Allan Bros. workers went on strike on May 7 and they started a chain of strikes in the Yakima Valley. Workers at seven packing sheds joined the strike, a maximum of 450 to 500 striking workers. The strike lasted 29 days.

According to Edgar, they came out, “because many of their co-workers were already testing positive for the coronavirus, and the companies were not giving them protective equipment such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, and they were not cleaning the areas where the infected people worked.

“All the striking workers agreed on their demands – protection from the virus crown, payment for working in dangerous conditions, and no retaliation. In addition, they want permanent changes, not only during the pandemic. They want safety on the job.”

“We spread the word that the company was not taking the necessary protective steps against the Coronavirus. So, we took action,” Rosalinda, one of the striking worker tells Radio KDNA on June 18.

“The community has responded very well, they bring us food and water,” says Edgar.

When I asked what would you call a victory?

He answered. “Most workers are willing to continue until there is an agreement with the companies. With some companies we’ve made progress during the talks and negotiations, with others more talks are needed.”

Although the strike is over, Maria told KDNA: “I was on strike and the truth is that if I need to go out again I would do it, because I learned many things that I did not know.”

Gema, a striker, called the radio station to express what she had learned. “I learned about the labor system and about knowing and defending my rights. The strike is over but the fight continues.”

“People who Yes we can!
This is how Edgar described the strikers.

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