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States of exception | Police violence, redux

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Pigs. Credit: Anti-Social Media


The time has come for the establishment of a National Commission on Police Violence and Militarization. Such a commission should be appointed with an eye toward inclusion of the communities most affected by police violence – African American, Latina/o, Native American, and other people of color.

Moderator’s Note: Last month (July 12) I shared a set of brief comments and a link to a major report by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on the nationwide problem of police brutality and violence against American citizens and residents. Given the pivotal unfolding struggle against police violence sparked by the police killing of an unarmed black man in Ferguson, Missouri, it seems timely to remind readers about the link to that report, War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing. It also seems appropriate to post some insightful analysis from about 14 years ago on the exact same problem. Police violence has been with us from the very first days of policing in the USA. Today’s post is entitled, “Contemporary Police Brutality and Misconduct: A Continuation of the Legacy of Racial Violence” and it was prepared by the Black Radical Congress.
The BRC analysis was released on February 28, 2001. The version posted here appeared on March 21, 2001 in Monthly Review and I offer it here because it demonstrates two critical facts that provide context on this problem of structural violence through one of the most central institutions of American society:

1.     Historical roots. The problem of police violence has very deep historical roots. As the BRC analysis explains: 

People of color have been the victims of systematic public and spontaneous private violence since the slave trade and the colonial conquest of the Americas. Privately initiated racist violence has taken the form of genocidal invasions, rapacious slaving raids, savage slave whipping, and repressive white capping, lynching, race riots, and hate crimes. Although private violence is crucial to the maintenance of racial oppression, it has always supplemented State-sponsored (government) racist violence. 

2.     Structural nature. While the forms of violence can take interpersonal forms, the phenomenon of police violence is an important aspect of structural violence, which signifies a societal form of violence directed against a specific group of people. As the BRC observes:

Police brutality and misconduct are merely the major contemporary forms of State-sponsored racist violence. Police brutality describes “instances of serious physical or psychological harm to civilians.” Contemporary police brutality consists of deadly force, the use of excessive force, and it includes unjustified shooting, fatal choking, and physical assault by law enforcement officers.

As is clearly illustrated by the evidence available in the historical record and in reports by the ACLU, other human and civil rights organizations, and governmental agencies alike, the problem of police violence is systematic and structural. It is systematic because it reproduces and feeds off racial animosity and the intent to commit harm against people based on their race and class backgrounds. In other words, policing is based on racial and class profiling. It is structural because it serves existing arrangements of wealth, inequality, and power in our society; i.e., it reproduces the structure of power.
It seems clear that the results of the past three years of violence against (especially) young black men (although black women and other people of color are also frequent targets), and perpetrated by the police and ‘private’ white individuals, have finally led to a growing social movement that seeks to challenge not just the acts of violence but the manner in which police organizations respond to the protests that are following in the wake of these acts. The militarized character of the police response was made painfully clear in Ferguson where a small local force of 50+ police officers responded by showing up to civilian protests in full military gear and military equipment (including a sniper on top of an armored personnel carrier.
The fact that the police in Ferguson were forced to back off their militarized response – after a national outcry that included condemnation by President Obama – reminds me a bit of 1935 and the way authorities responded to the so-called Harlem Riots.
The militarization of the police is the bigger issue. The emergent social movement against police violence is therefore also a movement for democracy against an emerging police state that is learning to use the same weapons and machines used to kill people in Iraq and Afghanistan to kill us at home. Indeed, many of the weapons, equipment, machines, and gear used in Ferguson are surplus formerly used in the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. This War on Democracy must end and the movement is already making class for complete demilitarization of USA police forces at the local, county, state, and even federal levels.
The time has come for the establishment of a National Commission on Police Violence and Militarization. Such a commission should be appointed with an eye toward inclusion of the communities most affected by police violence – African American, Latina/o, Native American, and other people of color. The commission should work toward recommendations the President would be required to present to the Congress for approval in legislation designed to rescue our democracy from this spiteful creeping police state spawned by a completely irrational overreaction to 9/11. It has been almost 13 years since the 9/11 attacks; a civilized and progressive people would realize it is time to get over it and start acting like a nation ruled by laws designed for social justice and that, therefore, aspires to be a beacon of light to the rest of the world.
Contemporary Police Brutality and Misconduct

A CONTINUATION OF THE LEGACY OF RACIAL VIOLENCE
Black Radical Congress | Chicago, IL | February 28, 2001
For Immediate Release—February 28, 2001

NOTE: The statement below is an extended backgrounder version of the BRC’s Anti-Police Brutality & Misconduct Petition. A shorter version of this petition, intended for the gathering of signatures, can be downloaded from the Black Radical Congress web site at: http://www.blackradicalcongress.org]

“Our lives, our homes, our liberties each day are made less secure because of unrestrained and unpunished police brutality.”

 

—National Negro Congress, Petition Against Police Brutality, 1938

In the late sixties, Jamil Al-Amin (a.k.a. H. Rap Brown) declared, “Violence is as American as cherry pie.” Al-Amin’s statement underscores the essential role of violence in maintaining systems of racial oppression in the United States. Racist violence was fundamental to the creation of the United States. Moreover, force and violence are not options but necessary to the maintenance of racial oppression. Racist violence is the scaffolding upon which capitalist exploitation and white supremacy are erected.
Racist violence has both structural and physical components and it operates in both the public and private spheres. Structural violence refers to the “impersonal” violence inflicted upon people of color and the poor by profit-oriented enterprises and institutions. It involves the indirect violence caused by institutional policies and programs that produce, maintain, and rationalize poverty, inadequate health care, and substandard housing.
Public racist violence refers to structural and physical violence initiated, perpetuated, and justified by the government. Private racist violence describes the racially motivated physical and structural violence of private citizens and persons.
People of color have been the victims of systematic public and spontaneous private violence since the slave trade and the colonial conquest of the Americas. Privately initiated racist violence has taken the form of genocidal invasions, rapacious slaving raids, savage slave whipping, and repressive white capping, lynching, race riots, and hate crimes. Although private violence is crucial to the maintenance of racial oppression, it has always supplemented State-sponsored (government) racist violence.
Over the last 500 years people of color, especially African Americans, have endured a pattern of State-sanctioned violence, and civil and human rights abuse. To enforce capitalist exploitation and racial oppression the government and its police, courts, prisons, and military have beaten, framed, murdered and executed private persons, and brutally repressed struggles for freedom, justice, and self-determination. It has initiated wars of conquest, launched manhunts for fugitive slaves, suppressed slave revolts, brutalized demonstrators, and assassinated political dissidents.
Police brutality and misconduct are merely the major contemporary forms of State-sponsored racist violence. Police brutality describes “instances of serious physical or psychological harm to civilians.” Contemporary police brutality consists of deadly force, the use of excessive force, and it includes unjustified shooting, fatal choking, and physical assault by law enforcement officers. Police misconduct is inclusive of planting evidence, making untrue statements, filing untrue written reports, condoning untrue statements and/or reports by keeping silent, threatening suspects, arrestees, and witnesses, engaging in illegal activities, and committing perjury.
This statement summarizes the United States’ atrocious record of racial repression, specifically State-sponsored violence. It has a dual purpose: first to demonstrate the role of government in initiating and sustaining racially motivated suppression and savagery; and second, to provide a rationale for making police brutality and misconduct federal crimes.
Constitution. Art by Allison Kilkenny
A History of U.S. Racial Repression and Violence
Historically, racist violence, legal and extralegal, and whether State-sponsored or private, has been used to impose racial oppression and preserve white power and privilege. Racist violence has served five primary purposes:
To force people of color into indentured, slave, peonage, or low wage situations;
To steal land, minerals, and other resources;
To maintain social control and to repress rebellions;
To restrict or eliminate competition in employment, business, politics, and social life; and
To unite “whites” across ethnic/national, class, and gender lines.
Domination of people of color necessitated the incorporation and justification of racially motivated and differentiated violence in the society’s law, custom, and popular culture. Federal, state, and municipal law sanctioned the slave trade, genocidal wars of conquest, slavery, and the brutalities inherent labor exploitation and racial oppression. Genocide and other forms of government sponsored or sanctioned violence have been inflicted upon Native Americans since the country’s beginning. Latino/a people have been the victims of government sponsored or sanctioned violence since the U.S. unleashed a colonial war of aggression against the Mexicano people in the middle of the 19th century. Chinese (and later other Asian Americans) have been assaulted by government sponsored or sanctioned violence since the middle of the 19th century.
Moreover, all branches of government have engaged in violence against workers across color and gender lines or abdicated their equal protection responsibilities during labor disputes.
State-sponsored and state-sanctioned violence has characterized the Black experience since Africans’ forced migration to these shores. The Atlantic Slave Trade (1444-1850) represented the first moment of capitalist globalism. The slave trade was the first international industry; it was a business venture of European nation-states.
Orderly commodity exchange cloaked the coercion and disorder undergirding the Atlantic Slave Trade. Raids and kidnapping were the life-blood of the slave “trade.” About two-thirds of the nearly 12 million Africans enslaved in the Americas were captured through rapacious raids and kidnapping. During the four centuries the slave trade operated, 100 million Africans may have died from the predatory commercial wars launched by European royalty, the papacy, and emerging European and American capitalists.
British colonial and American governments systematically suppressed Africans’ human rights. Colonial governments enacted special “slave codes” that legalized physical abuse—whipping—and authored practices that condoned maiming, rape, and murder. After the revolution, individual states preserved and refined anti-black laws, with the support of the federal government. For its part, the new national government enshrined African American slavery into the U.S. Constitution (Article I, sec. 2) and authorized law enforcement agents to assist in the capture and return of fugitive slaves (Article 4, sec. 2 and the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793).
Racist violence reached its apogee after Emancipation. Lynching, the major form of violence used against African Americans, from 1882-1910, resulted from the encouragement of law enforcement agents or their abdicating their equal protection responsibilities. Between 1882 and 1930 approximately 3,000 Blacks (mostly male) were lynched.* During the First Nadir (1877-1917), organized gang rape of Black women by white racist mobs and organizations like the Ku Klux Klan was a special form of terrorism reserved for Blacks.
Police attack during 1964 Harlem Riot.  Credit: Soliloquy
After 1930, extralegal race riots and legal executions replaced lynching as means of social control. All white or predominately white juries and government officials merely extended societal racial discrimination to executions. More than half (53%) of the 4,220 persons executed between 1930 and 1996 were Black. Despite the history of white men sexually assaulting Black women, 405 or 90 percent of the 455 men executed for rape between 1930 and 1976 were Black. In 1972 the death penalty was outlawed partly because of its racist and class discriminatory implementation (Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238). Since its return in 1976, executions have adhered their previous racist and class biased patterns. Thus, people of color have comprised 45 percent or 308 of the 679 executions in the U.S. Two hundred and forty-seven or 36 percent of those executed have been Black. Currently, Blacks on death row are nearly three times their percentage in the overall population (36% to 13%).
The government also bears the responsibility for the actions and non-actions of police officers during race riots and rebellions. Abdication of responsibility coupled with acts of outright brutality and misconduct by law enforcement officers enabled hundreds race riots (violent clashes between private white and Black citizens) throughout the nation’s history. Police brutality or misconduct has been the “trigger incident” that sparked almost every modern rebellion from the 1935 “Harlem Riot” to the 1992 LA Conflagration. For instance, after the beating of Lino Rivera, a Puerto Rican youth by New York City police in 1935, three Blacks were killed, 57 people were injured and $2 million dollars worth of property was destroyed in Harlem. A patrolman’s attack on Marquette Frye sparked an uprising in the Watts in 1965. The conflict resulted in hundreds of injures, 34 deaths, and the damage or destruction of $35 million worth of property. The savage police beating of Arthur McDuffie, a 33-year-old Black insurance executive triggered the 1980 Miami Rebellion.
The 1992 LA Rebellion was a response to the March 3, 1991 brutalizing of Rodney G. King by three LA police officers. Twenty-three other law enforcement officers watched as King was beaten kicked and shocked by officers wielding batons and stun guns.
In contemporary America, police brutality is the preferred form of social control. Several local, state, and federal commissions, particularly the 1967 National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (the Kerner Commission) have pointed out the immensity of this problem. The police are as the Black Panther Party declared in the 1960s (1955-1975) “an occupying army of repression.”
Police brutality has been a persistent problem faced by African Americans. The failure of government to protect Black people from lawless law enforcement officers forced Blacks to act in their own interests. During the 1930s, the National Negro Congress organized massive rallies against this form of terror. In Washington, D.C., over the span a few months, the NNC collected 24,000 signatures protesting abuse by the D.C. police department. The Black Panther Party was created to stem the tide of police abuse. In the 1970s the Congress of Afrikan Peoples sponsored the “Stop Killer Cops” Campaigns.
Extralegal violence by law enforcement officers has been a primary concern of the Congressional Black Caucus since its formation. The CBC has periodically held public hearing about police outrages across the country over the last thirty years. Yet, extra-legal violence persists as recent police killings of Richard L. Holtz (Fort Lee, New Jersey); Tyisha Miller (Riverside, California); and Amadou Diallo (New York City) attest.
Police chokehold, 1964 Harlem Riot. Look familiar?
Finally, Police administrators have ignored or been lax in using internal department policies and procedures to punish officers who have displayed a pattern of brutality and/or misconduct. Internal department policies are often weak and internal investigations are generally conducted poorly. A Justice department survey found that nearly 22 percent of police admit that fellow officers sometimes or often use “more force than necessary”. Moreover, 61 percent claimed officers do not report instances of “serious criminal violations of abuse of authority” by other officers. Civilian review boards are generally under-funded and lack the legal authority to compel police officers’ participation, nor can they enforce findings. To date, private Civil suits have yet to demonstrate the capacity to reform individual or police departmental behavior because they do not address the policies and procedures of departments.
Although the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 authorized the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice to bring “civil actions” against police departments that evidence a pattern of abuse (Section 210402, Data on Use of Excessive Force), they also have not deterred the continuation of police brutality and misconduct.
Moreover, neither the offending officer nor the department is held financially liable for judgments. Finally, criminal prosecutions for police brutality or misconduct rarely occur because few state prosecutors are willing to aggressively pursue abusive officers. This pattern is also true for federal prosecutors, although to a lesser extent.
Conclusion
We believe that existing local, county, state, and federal policies and laws have been ineffective in ending the persistent and pervasive practices of police brutality and misconduct.
Moreover, we believe that because police officers operate under “color of law” that civil and human rights violations committed by officers undermine respect for law and government. Furthermore, we believe the logical consequence of police violence and misconduct is a society ruled by the force of arms, not law. Thus, every act of police brutality and misconduct; every frame-up, every act of illegal surveillance, every “justified” murder erases an article from the Bill of Rights and takes us another step closer to a police state.
Thus, we the undersigned citizens of the United States petition the United States Congress to make police brutality and misconduct federal crimes. We believe that police brutality and misconduct should be federal crimes for the following reasons:
Whereas police brutality and misconduct are perhaps the most serious and recurring violations of U.S. citizens’ civil rights; and
Whereas police brutality and misconduct are perhaps the most serious and recurring violations of citizens’ and permanent residents’ human rights; and
Whereas police brutality and misconduct are pervasive across the nation at all levels of law enforcement, municipal, county, state, and federal; and
Whereas race and ethnicity or nationality have been demonstrated to be major factors in the occurrence of police brutality and misconduct; and
Whereas socioeconomic class has been demonstrated to be a major factor in the occurrence of police brutality and misconduct; and
Whereas gender and its intersection with class and race/ nationality plays a major factor in racial profiling; Black and Brown men traditionally have been the primary targets of racial profiling. However, Black women have increasingly become targets of racial profiling, especially in airports and Black women also compose one of the fastest- growing segments of new incarcerations; and
Whereas existing remedies at the municipal, state, and federal levels of government have proven ineffective in curtailing the unwarranted use of excessive force and subsequent cover up of such abuses; and
Whereas police brutality and misconduct are serious offenses that threaten domestic peace and tranquility, we call upon the Congress of the United States to pass legislation making brutality and misconduct by law enforcement agents federal crimes subject to prosecutions in federal court.
*In 1919, the NAACP reported 3,386 incidents of lynching between 1882-1918. In a controversial 1992 revision, sociologists Stewart E. Tolnay and E.M. Beck, argue that duplication of reporting produced an over count. They claim only 2,805 lynchings (nearly 2500 of which were Blacks) can be documented between 1882 and 1930, in ten southern states. See NAACP, Thirty Years of Lynching in the United States: 1889-1918 (New York: Arno Press, 1919), p. 29 and Stewart E. Tolnay and E.M. Beck, Festival of Violence: An Analysis of Southern Lynching, 1882-1930 (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois)

When Food Workers Rebel | Sakuma Berry Farm retaliates against organizing workers

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Image courtesy of Working Partnerships
Labor repression 1950s style

FROM ‘SIMPLE’ TO ‘BUREAUCRATIC’ CONTROL?        

Devon G. Peña | Seattle, WA | August 15, 2014

The struggle for workers’ rights and autonomy continues unabated in the State of Washington. Readers and followers may recall that last July a group of several hundred indigenous farmworkers and their families launched a historic strike against the Sakuma Berry Farms, a company in western Washington just north of Seattle (see our post of July 16, 2013 and related posts on July 28, August 6, and August 29 among others). Most of the workers are Triqui and Mixtec natives from Mexico. The struggle continues and has passed through sevearl important watersheds since we last reported on the strike and its aftermath.
One important development occurred this past May when the workers successfully challenged Sakuma over company efforts to receive federal Department of Labor approval to import H-2A (temporary agricultural) guest workers. The request was rejected by the feds and the workers’ active pressing of the issue before various regulatory bodies played a major role in that outcome (see the report by David Bacon in The Nation).
The company sought to use guest workers to replace the organizing mass of indigenous farm workers. In the aftermath of this failed attempt to import strikebreakers, the company has now turned to some old-fashioned tactics that date back to the 1940s and 50s. Indeed, these same tactics have been used before and were commonly deployed during the heyday of the farm worker movements to end the Bracero Program, which was essentially the largest guest worker program in US immigration policy history, and during the 1960s-70s and the rise of the United Farm Workers (UFW).
Got a problem [sic] worker? Invent a disciplinary handbook; don’t share it with the workers; then use it to take disciplinary measures (including penalties and employment termination) to control or get rid of ‘problem’ employees. It would appear that Sakuma Brothers management has discovered “bureaucratic” control and are deploying it since their original strategy of “simple” or “direct” (supervisory) command and control failed to produce the worker acquiescence sought by the company.
Michael Burawoy (1979) did the first classic analysis of control strategies in USA context and identified three principal control modes used by capitalists against workers: simple controlinvolves direct face-to-face interaction and supervision between the manager and the worker; technical controlinvolves the use of machines like the assembly line conveyor-belt to reinforced greater division of labor and set the pace and intensity of work; this allows the supervisor or manager to monitor and control indirectly without having to rely much on the interpersonal contact required under simple control; and bureaucratic control, the most recent modality, involves the use or rules and regulations to obtain worker compliance and conformity to corporate organizational plans and processes; like technical control, this also eliminates the need for much interpersonal contact.
The report from the field posted below makes several observations about how Sakuma Brothers is relying on a feigned observance of bureaucratic rules. This is a ruse and likely a violation of federal labor laws since workers are to be provided with any handbook issued and followed by the employer. Federal and Washington state labor laws require that the employer issue regulations and statements that are “truthful” and are developed “in good faith”. It appears that in this case, the employer is not “truthful” or acting “in good faith” when the alleged employee handbook is written in English and has not been shared with workers or their representatives.

Image courtesy of Links
Sakuma Brothers Update

ONEROUS PIECE-RATES AND DISCIPLINARY SCHEME UNFAIR

Rosalinda Guillen/Community2Community | Bellingham, WA | August 13, 2014
On Monday August 11th over 150 Sakuma Bros Farms blueberry pickers, members of Familias Unidas por la Justicia, protested and assembled a picket line at the farm’s field office on Benson Road to protest the firing of a union leader, unreliable lunch break times, onerous piece-rates and a new disciplinary scheme that was imposed by the company.
Cornelio Ramirez, a Familias Unidas por la Justicia negotiation committee member, has been the target of an internal campaign by the management of Sakuma Berry Farms to seek out and discipline farm workers who are sympathetic to the independent farm worker union with a previously un-enforced company handbook that establishes a warning-based discipline system. The farm workers do not even have a copy of this handbook. Cornelio received two warnings for talking back to company representatives (a labor contractor and an anti-union consultant), one warning for using his cell phone to record a conversation in Spanish, his second language, and another for “picking too slow”.
Farm workers have been given arbitrary warnings for activity that is not related to production such as for talking back, using cell phones, and placing their buckets on the ground. Carmen Juarez Ventura, a seasoned picker featured on the cover of Seth Holme’s book, “Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies” said she received a warning for placing her bucket on the ground, when the foreman’s wife continuously did the same activity and was never cited. She believed the reason she got the warning was that she was a proud member of Familias Unidas por la Justicia and the manager’s wife was sympathetic to the corporation.

Cornelio Ramirez is a hard worker, because of Sakuma’s executive decision not to harvest portions of the available crops instead of hiring him and many other members of his union before the company was sued for contempt of a court order, Ramirez supplemented his earnings by taking on a nightshift at a local seafood processing plant. After finally being hired by Sakuma Bros Berry Farm so that they could avoid a contempt order and prosecution, Ramirez was subjected to closed door, mandatory one-on-one meetings with his foreman at Sakuma Berry Farms  who tried to convince him that being a member of Familias Unidas por la Justicia was not in his best interest.

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During one-on-one meetings, supervisors ask workers about their views of unions and advise union supporters to change their minds. Under normal circumstances, an employer has the right to confer with an employee freely. However, given the inherent coercive power an employer holds over an employee, the message and frequency of these one-on-one meetings dramatically affects the individual worker’s freedom to choose a union.

SOURCE:

http://www.goiam.org/publications/Legislative_Issues/TheFreedomtoFormAUnion/Employers_Interfere_with_Workers.pdf

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In early August, Ramirez’s picking was regularly interrupted by mandatory meetings with Mario Vargas and the company’s labor contractor Jesse . In order to avoid taking direct responsibility over the hiring and firing of farm workers this season, some of Sakuma Bros. Farms employees are managed by a third party labor contractor from California who hired some farm workers from California, bused them to Washington State and had them working in fields in Bellingham, before moving them to Skagit County to Sakuma Bros. Farms so that Sakuma management could avoid hiring the union members . Mario Vargas, an anti-union consultant, who is also from California has been holding mandatory 30 minute captive-audience meetings with berry pickers working at Sakuma Bros Farms since the beginning of the season.
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In captive-audience meetings, workers are forced to sit through one-sided, anti-union presentations during company time. Workers can be fired for refusing to attend, and workers who support the union can be denied access to the meeting. Although it is legal for employers to use their employees’ work time in this manner, no such venue is provided for workers to make their case in favor of union representation. According to the Bronfenbrenner survey, 92 percent of employers force employees to attend an average of 11 mandatory anti-union presentations during union representation campaigns. 

SOURCE:  

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Union President Ramon Torres insists that Cornelio Ramirez, was clearly given warnings for standing up for his right to belong to a farm worker union. This is the case for many of the other farm workers who have currently walked out because of similar citations; they are right in their assumption that this too is a form of retaliation by Sakuma Bros. Farms.
During the captive-audience meeting in the berry fields, Cornelio stood up for his union, he corrected the false information that the anti-union Consultant was giving, telling Vargas that he did not have the right to tell people not to join the union and that he was wrong to give false information about Familias Unidas por la Justicia and their President Ramon Torres.
Other farm workers in that meeting brought up the onerous piece-rates being imposed on the farm workers to the consultant and labor contractor, Vargas told the farm workers that the piece-rates were up to the company, and there was nothing he could do about it. Meanwhile, skilled pickers like Cornelio Ramirez are being cited for not “picking fast enough” to match the onerous piece rates.
Since the walkout on the morning of August 11 – at 8:00am, Cornelio Ramirez was in the farm’s hiring office with four other workers, trying to negotiate their collective reinstatement, and for the removal of the unfair warnings given to all of the workers. Outside, Sakuma Bros Farms tried to corral the 135 farm workers who had assembled a picket line in solidarity in hiring office’s parking lot on Benson Road with tractors, buses and large trucks which farm executives intended to use as a wedge between union leadership (Ramon Torres) who was on public property, and the rest of the union rank and file farm workers. Led by Carmen Ventura Juarez, picketing farm workers engaged in a direct action in the Sakuma hiring office parking lot, using their bodies to block the tractors from completely closing off the communication between union leadership and the rank and file workers.
Image courtesy of Links
Cornelio Ramirez was fired by Sakuma Bros. Farms at 10:30AM Monday August 11.  After the meeting with management he came out and met with the union leadership in the parking lot and rallied the farm workers to a boycott picket line at Sakuma’s Farm Market Stand nearby on Cook Rd. The union members were undeterred and vowed to ramp up the boycott. “I have lots of time to support our President Ramon Torres grow the boycott” said Cornelio.

On Tuesday morning the rest of the workers returned to work and met and pressured the consultants for over an hour about ending the unfair labor practice of giving out bogus “warnings”. Ramon Torres again stood nearby and the workers debriefed with him before going into the berry fields. Raul Calvo the anti-union consultant attempted to disrupt the union meeting to no avail as Ramon challenged him in front of the workers; they clapped as Raul walked away.
Familias Unidas is calling their supporters to action. Boycott Sakuma products, including Driscoll Berries (Sakuma farm workers pick berries into Driscoll boxes)
CALL and e-mail Sakuma Brothers Farms Management and ask them to STOP RETALIATING AGAINST THE UNION MEMBERS

They should sit down and do the right thing – NEGOTIATE A UNION CONTRACT NOW!
For more information: www.boycottsakumaberries.com