Washington Bulb Co. farmworkers voted Thursday night to suspend their strike this week in Mount Vernon and discuss their list of demands with company officials.
The elected worker committee, consisting of seven people, met with company officials Friday morning to begin conversations with the support of Familias Unidas por la Justicia, an independent farmworker union.
A statement from the workers Saturday said their elected committee “reported that there was good progress made because of the good faith Washington Bulb Management brought to the table.”
The strike remains suspended and discussions will continue Monday, the group said.
“We are optimistic that we can reach an agreement that will give us a voice to create just working conditions and address the demands we presented to management through good faith negotiations,” worker Alfredo Juarez said in a statement.
Ninety-three workers had signed union membership cards as of Friday, said Rosalinda Guillen, a local organizer and founder of Community to Community Development.
Washington Bulb Co., which farms about 2,000 acres of land, is owned by RoozenGaarde Flowers and Bulbs, the nation’s largest tulip bulb grower.
This week’s walkout marked what union leaders believe is the first strike in the Skagit Valley tulip fields and comes just before the April 1 start of the monthlong 2022 Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. Thousands come each year to view the vast tulip and daffodil fields, an economic boon to the area as visitors spend on food and lodging.
The workers decided to suspend the strike with the understanding that officials would discuss their list of demands in “good faith,” Guillen said.
The Seattle Times was unable to reach Brent Roozen, a representative of Washington Bulb Co., for comment Friday. Roozen’s grandfather purchased the company in 1955 and the Roozen family and Washington Bulb Co., Inc. established RoozenGaarde in 1985, according to their website.
The workers’ demands included an increase in bonuses, improved sick leave, access to safety gear and for bonuses to be calculated by bunches of flowers picked regardless of quality.
CORRECTION: This article was updated to correct that Brent Roozen is a representative of Washington Bulb Co. not an owner.
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