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Tulips Aren't Blooming for Farmworkers in WA's Skagit Valley


Friday, March 25, 2022   

The tulips in Skagit Valley may be blooming, but the farmworkers tending to them say there are serious issues with working conditions.

About 70 workers and members of the union Familias Unidas por la Justicia have gone on strike after what has been described as a "pay bonus mix-up" between two groups of workers, who say it has also happened in the past.

It comes one week before the popular Skagit Valley Tulip Festival begins April 1.

Marciano Sanchez, organizer for the union, spoke from the northwest Washington farm where the strike is taking place, about the Washington Bulb Company's response to the wage issue.

"One of the only reasons that they noticed that there was an error on their part was because the workers decided to do a work stoppage and decided to go on strike," Sanchez pointed out. "And there was news outlets that were here reporting on it and that's the only reason why the company actually decided to check up into this."

The Washington Bulb Company acknowledged the bonus-pay issue was an inadvertent error by its staff. The company said it resolved the issue and made the decision to compensate all groups at the higher bonus level.

But Sanchez said workers have concerns beyond the pay confusion.

"They wanted better working conditions, cleaner restrooms and a better pay structure or, like, a higher bonus that they get paid," Sanchez outlined.

Workers are also looking for an improved sick-leave policy and safer application of pesticides. The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival attracts thousands to the region during the monthlong event.

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