Farmworkers union takes dairy fight to lender
Updated: Friday, February 11, 2011 10:38 AM
By MATTHEW WEAVER
SPOKANE, Wash. -- Representatives of the United Farm Workers of America protested Jan. 11 at the Spokane headquarters of an agricultural lender, complaining about how a dairy treats its workers.
A delegation of dairy workers, UFW workers and supporters delivered to Northwest Farm Credit Services more than 30,000 signatures from an online petition.
"We're making a moral appeal to Ruby Ridge Dairy's lender, calling on them to use their influence to help resolve the litany of issues facing workers out there," Erik Nicholson, UFW national vice president, said.
The union has been trying to organize employees of the Pasco, Wash., dairy since 2009. The union claims the dairy illegally fired 12 workers, who in turn filed suit against the dairy claiming wage, hour and other state law violations.
Ruby Ridge Dairy owner Dick Bengen said the lawsuit is still pending.
Tom Tracy, executive vice president and general counsel for Northwest Farm Credit, told Capital Press the workers alleged unfair practices at the dairy.
Ruby Ridge has "adequately" denied any wrongdoing, Tracy said.
"They're very good customers of ours," he said. "The issue is really between Ruby Ridge and the employees."