As another holiday approaches, over a hundred workers – farm workers, warehouse workers, food processing workers, lab technicians, and grocery clerks – have launched a new "Farm to Family Coalition" that will work to ensure that food arrives safely and ethically to the tables of families throughout the Puget Sound region. The coalition will promote health and safety, workplace justice, respect for animals, and environmental stewardship as food travels from our region’s farms to the tables of families in our communities. “Workers play a vital role in ensuring that the food we enjoy is healthy and safe,” said Tracey A. Thompson, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117.
At the event, workers spoke about conditions on the farms, in the processing plants, in the labs, in the warehouses, and in the stores.
“Employers like Darigold need to recognize that intimidating workers at their food processing plants and turning a blind eye to squalid conditions on their suppliers’ farms is bad for business and bad for our community.”
“We work 12 to 14 hours a day without lunch or rest breaks and without water. On top of that, they steal our wages. We’ve been fighting for four years and nothing changes,” said Margarito Martinez, a former farm worker at Ruby Ridge Dairy, a 2,000-cow operation that supplies milk to Darigold.
Lisa Hearing, a lab technician at Darigold’s corporate lab in Tukwila, spoke about the critical nature of her work. The milk comes in off the farm and we test it for raw bacterial count, antibiotics, and a lot of other things. We try to make sure that the milk is safe when it goes to production.
Josh Putnam, a 15-year grocery warehouse worker at Fred Meyer, talked about his role in maintaining quality control. We make sure the product is cold when it comes off the truck and cold in the facility.
The health of our community depends on workers on our farms, in our food processing plants, in our grocery distribution centers, and in our stores.
Workers across the supply chain play a vital role in ensuring that our food is healthy and safe. The health of our community depends on workers on our farms, in our food processing plants, in our grocery distribution centers, and in our stores. The following principles outline key issues that protect our environment and keep our community healthy and safe, from farm to family.
1. HEALTH AND FOOD SAFETY
• Families have the right to safe and healthy food
• Families have the right to accurate and honest information
• Our food should be produced, distributed, and sold in an environment that is safe for workers
• Our food should be free of antibiotics, synthetic hormones, pesticides, and harmful chemicals
• Our food should undergo rigorous testing to identify and prevent contamination
2. WORKPLACE JUSTICE AND FAIR LABOR STANDARDS
• Workers should be treated with dignity and respect
• Workers have the right to a workplace free from harassment and discrimination
• Workers have the right to report safety issues without fear of discipline or retaliation
• Workers have the right to free association and to form and join organizations of their choosing
• Workers have the right to adequate breaks and meal periods
• Workers have the right to be paid a living wage for all work performed
3. RESPECT FOR ANIMALS
• Animals have the right to live in harmony with nature
• Animal health and welfare should be protected by all stakeholders
• Animals raised for meat, eggs, and milk must be treated with compassion
• Animals have the right to live free of pain, suffering, and cruel treatment
4. COMMUNITY AND THE ENVIRONMENT
• We support local food from local, family farmers
• We support sustainable agricultural practices that prevent environmental degradation
• We support greater protections from the impacts of industrialized animal factories
• We support the elimination of harmful pesticides and chemicals in food production
• We support the reduction of our carbon footprint across the food chain