May Day 2017 March in Santa Cruz

A family that lives in the Beach Flats led the march with a child’s sign proclaiming, “Fuera Trump! Viva La Raza! Viva Los Trabajadores!”

On May 1, 2017, May Day demonstrators marched from the Post Office in downtown Santa Cruz to the Beach Flats neighborhood. The march visited the Beach Flats Community Garden before continuing on to Beach Flats Park.

Watsonville Brown Berets carried a colorful banner stating, “Santa Cruz Stands in Solidarity with International Workers.” More beautiful people carried awesome banners, handsewn at The Fábrica, declaring, “All Are Welcome”, “Capitalism Is Killing Us”, and “The Future”.

A family that lives in the Beach Flats led the march with a child’s sign proclaiming, “Fuera Trump! Viva La Raza! Viva Los Trabajadores!” They used a megaphone to keep demonstrators energized while calling for justice, including migrant rights. Meanwhile, Brown Berets from Salinas and Watsonville helped maintain the good vibes with a megaphone at the back of the march.

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UFW Tries to Silence Boycott Driscoll’s Activists at Cesar Chavez March

What is UFW (United Farm Workers) doing to support farmworkers fighting for justice in San Quintín, México and Washington state? Nothing.

[ FUJ member Lázaro Matamoros and Chelsea Thaw of FUJ’s boycott coordination team carry a Boycott Driscoll’s banner in the annual Cesar Chavez March in Salinas, California. April 3, 2016. Photo by Michal Garcia. ]

On Sunday, April 3, Michael Garcia and fellow Watsonville Brown Berets traveled a short distance to Salinas, California to attend the annual Cesar Chavez March and Rally presented by United Farm Workers (UFW). The Watsonville Brown Berets were joined by members of Familias Unidas por la Justicia (FUJ), an independent farmworker union in Burlington, Washington fighting for a union contract, and initiators of the boycott against Driscoll’s.

The Watsonville Brown Berets (WBB) and FUJ activists spoke with people assembled at Cesar Chavez Community Park and handed out flyers about the growing movement to boycott Driscoll’s, the world’s largest berry distributor. FUJ, along with tens of thousands of farmworkers in San Quintín, México, are fighting to end wage theft and poverty wages, inhumane production standards, and retaliation from protected union activity.

Although advocating for farmworkers’ rights seems like it would be warmly welcomed by UFW, that was unfortunately not the experience for WBB and FUJ members. Garcia, born and raised in Watsonville, noticed that his friend was working the stage and asked if his group could have some time later to speak about the Driscoll’s boycott. Garcia’s friend, who was both the owner of the stage and a mariachi musician performing at the event, agreed to provide Garcia time. The stage owner, however, was then reportedly approached by UFW representatives and specifically told that UFW does not want WBB or FUJ speaking from the stage.

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Boycott Driscoll’s Outreach on Watsonville’s Main Street

Watsonville community members support the boycott against Driscoll’s, the world famous berry company headquartered in their town.

[ Emmanuel Ballesteros of the Watsonville Brown Berets, standing on the median of Main Street in Watsonville, California, holds a sign above his head declaring, “Respect the Farmworkers. Boycott Driscoll’s.” April 2, 2016. ]

Over 300 farmworker families in Burlington, Washington are currently waging a historic struggle for a union contract at Sakuma Brothers Farms. They are asking consumers to boycott Driscoll’s berries, which includes strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries. Familias Unidas por la Justicia (FUJ), the farmworkers’ independent union, is fighting to end wage theft and poverty wages, inhumane production standards, and retaliation from Sakuma from protected union activity.

Lázaro Matamoros from Oaxaca, México, a farmworker at Sakuma Brothers Farms in Washington state and a rank and file union member of Familias Unidas por la Justicia, held signs on Main Street in Watsonville on Saturday, April 2 to raise awareness in the community regarding “Driscoll’s Exploitation” from “Border to Border.” Matamoros was joined by fellow FUJ activists who are currently on a 28-day tour of the West Coast to energize a major offensive on the boycott of Driscoll’s berries, including a March 31 protest outside the company’s headquarters in Watsonville.

Pedestrians and passing motorists were very receptive to flyers handed out asking people to “Respect the families who grow your food. Don’t buy Driscoll’s.” People went out of their way to speak with demonstrators and learn more about the world famous berry company headquartered less than a mile away.

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Boycott Driscoll’s West Coast Tour at Driscoll’s HQ in Watsonville

After a series of strikes in 2013 at Sakuma Brothers Farms in Washington state, farmworkers formed a union in response to denial of lunch and rest breaks, inhumane housing conditions, wage theft, below minimum wage pay, and harassment from supervisors.

[ Women amplify the call for a global boycott of Driscoll’s berries at Driscoll’s headquarters in Watsonville, California. March 31, 2016. Photos by Bradley Allen. ]

March 31 is the birthday of Cesar Chavez. This year on that date, March 31, 2016, Familias Unidas por la Justicia (FUJ), an independent farmworker union based in Burlington, Washington, led a demonstration at Driscoll’s headquarters in Watsonville, California to promote the ongoing international boycott of Driscoll’s berries. The workers were in Watsonville as part of a month long tour throughout Oregon and California to build a boycott on the scale of the grape boycott of the 1960s that can win union contracts for berry pickers in both Washington state and San Quintín, México.

Familias Unidas por la Justicia (FUJ) President Ramon Torres, rank and file union member Lázaro Matamoros, and Gloria Gracida spokesperson for the independent farmworker union in San Quintín, Mexico, demanded that Driscoll’s get their suppliers to negotiate union contracts with the respective independent unions and informed them that they will continue to organize a consumer boycott of the Driscoll’s label until this demand is met. They were joined by a group of boycott supporters from all over California, many of whom committed to organizing to support the boycott at earlier stops in the tour, including the Watsonville Brown Berets.

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Message from San Quintín to the United States: Boycott Driscoll’s

Farmworkers declare “we have suffered reprisals, mass dismissals, constant threats, increased workload for the same salary, and are obligated to join corporate unions that have never represented us, in exchange for keeping our jobs, among other labor abuses.”

[ Driscoll’s Headquarters. 345 Westridge Drive in Watsonville, California. ]

Driscoll’s, with headquarters at 345 Westridge Drive in Watsonville, California, is the world’s largest berry distributor and the target of an international boycott.

Besides providing fresh berries to customers around the world, Driscoll’s is often recognized for it’s philanthropy and community involvement. However there is also a dark side to the colorful berry company.

Author and documentarian Tomás Madrigal explains that Driscoll’s has a “notorious track record … when it comes to fighting against farm worker campaigns for worker rights and dignity.”

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Boycott Driscoll’s Action at Whole Foods Market in Santa Cruz

“Thank you to all the people who enter the stores and raise the consciousness of the consumers, because we are going to win this struggle together with you all.” – Maestra Gloria

[ A customer enters a Whole Foods Market in Santa Cruz holding a flyer that says, “Don’t Buy Driscoll’s: Respect The Families Who Grow Your Food.” Ruby Campos and Oscar Montiel display flyers in support the campaign. ]

On the afternoon of Friday, February 26, demonstrators gathered at Whole Foods Market in Santa Cruz, California to protest Driscoll’s, the largest berry distributor in the world with a history unjust labor practices and repression of union organizing. Founded in the Pajaro Valley in 1904, Driscoll’s is a privately held company with headquarters in Watsonville, California. Production of Driscoll’s berries extends into 22 countries.

Workers who grow, harvest, and pack Driscoll’s lucrative berries are struggling against the systematic abuses they are forced to endure, and the companies profiting from the exploitation of their collective labor. Demonstrators say they support the farmworkers, including the boycott they initiated against Driscoll’s, and cite poor working and living conditions, as well as growers refusing to negotiate with the workers’ unions: Familias Unidas por la Justicia (FUJ) [Families United for Justice] in Washington State and the Sindicato Independiente Nacional Democrático de Jornaleros Agrícolas (SINDJA) [National Democratic Union of Independent Farmworkers] in Baja California. The union SINDJA is called La Alianza (The Alliance) for short.

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Boycott Driscoll’s Action in Watsonville

Workers who grow, harvest, and pack Driscoll’s lucrative berries are struggling against the systematic abuses they are forced to endure, and the companies profiting from the exploitation of their collective labor.

[ Gloria Gracida, speaking on behalf of the Alliance of National, State and Municipal Organizations for Social Justice based in San Quintín, Baja California, informs shoppers at Mi Pueblo Market in Watsonville why they should boycott Driscoll’s. ]

On January 2, a couple dozen people kicked off 2016 with a protest in Watsonville, where Driscoll’s, the world’s largest distributor of fresh berries, is both headquartered and first began producing strawberries in 1904. The demonstrators are amplifying a campaign initiated by farmworkers in Washington State and Baja California to boycott Driscoll’s strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries. Workers who grow, harvest, and pack the lucrative berries are struggling against the systematic abuses they are forced to endure, and the companies profiting from the exploitation of their collective labor.

On the website Káráni: Escribir o Volar, Tomás Madrigal documents the boycott launched by farmworkers in 2013 against berries grown at Sakuma Brothers Farms in Burlington, Washington. In response to the successful boycott against their brand, Sakuma Brothers shifted production in 2014 and began packing fresh market berries exclusively into Driscoll’s label cartons.

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