state in the last 30 years. On 1995, after eight years of struggle, the United Farm Workers Union (UFW) secured an agreement and signed a contract to unionize the workers at the Chateau Saint Michelle Winery in the Yakima Valley.
More than two decades later, in 2016, FUJ won a vote to represent all of Sakuma workers and now gathers more than 500 people. It is affiliated with Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, which is a voluntary organization that represents more than 400 rank-and-file union members from more than 600 local unions throughout the state.
As the first union led by indigenous laborers, the organization was born out of the effort of the berry-pickers working for Sakuma in its fields in Burlington and Mt. Vernon, in Washington state, where there is no law establishing a process for union elections of farm workers and farm workers aren’t covered by the National Labor Relations Board.
Members of FUJ come originally from towns in Oaxaca and southern Mexico —home of Mixteco and Triqui indigenous communities— who depend on this seasonal job for large part of their yearly income. According to their vice president, Filemon Pineda, they “are part of a movement of indigenous people,” fighting against the discrimination indigenous people face both in Mexico and the United States.
Estefanía is a freelance writer based in Mexico. She has a degree in Sustainable Water Management and has mainly researched food-water social issues. She’s invested in public awareness concerning nutrition, equity, and sustainabily.