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Sun Jun 17, 2018, 04:07 PM

Lawsuit alleges blacklisting of Mexican farmworkers who joined 2017 orchard strike

Seventeen Mexican guest workers who went on a six-day strike at a Central Washington apple orchard have been blacklisted, alleges a lawsuit that says their exclusion from work this year violates an agreement that settled the labor dispute.

Columbia Legal Services filed the lawsuit Thursday in state Superior Court in Yakima on behalf of Familias Unidas Por La Justica, a Northwest farmworker’s union that assisted the Mexico workers in negotiating their settlement.

The strike at orchards near Quincy, Grant County, followed a series of complaints ranging from a scarcity of toilet paper to verbal abuse from a supervisor. It represented a rare flexing of bargaining muscle by an increasingly important part of the Washington farm-labor force: Foreign guest workers who come to the U.S. under temporary H-2A visas and generally have been reluctant to protest for fear of being sent back home.

The defendants named in the lawsuit include Larson Orchards and the Washington Farm Labor Association (WAFLA), a Washington organization that assists growers in bringing H-2A farmworkers to the Pacific Northwest.


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