YAKIMA, Wash. — A meeting to inform farmworkers of their rights and discuss labor issues will be sponsored by United Farm Workers of America and the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO.
The meeting at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 28 at the United Food and Commercial Workers hall, 507 S. Third St., Yakima, was organized at the request of Attorney General Bob Ferguson to share information on topics of “pressing concerns,” said Dulce Gutierrez, WSLC union and naturalization organizer in Yakima. Ferguson will not attend.
Wages, health and safety, pesticide use, overtime pay, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the H-2A-visa foreign guestworker program, sexual harassment and illnesses caused by extreme heat were listed as topics for meeting questions and information in a WSLC newsletter.
Attorneys from Ferguson’s office will be at the meeting to share information and answer questions, Gutierrez said.
“There are going to be different programs like this throughout Eastern Washington. At least one other. Maybe in the Tri-Cities,” Gutierrez said. She said she does not know of any in Western Washington.
La Casa Hogar, a community center in Yakima, is also involved. UFW and La Casa provide services to agricultural workers, including those on dairy farms, pickers and packers, Gutierrez said.
“The attorney general’s office asked about who to reach out to in the Yakima community,” she said.
The meeting is not part of a unionization effort and there was no particular event or incident that precipitated the meeting that she knows of, Gutierrez said.
“We hope to have somewhere in the range of 100 people. It’s important for WSLC because it’s not often we are able to provide a platform to speak to farmworkers,” she said.
A representative of the state Department of Agriculture and possibly someone from the state Labor & Industries Department or other state agencies will attend, she said.