This is an update to the story I originally wrote about here.
As was threatened back in January, Ruby Ridge Dairy in Pasco, WA has filed a lawsuit against 17 workers and the UFW. I have been unable to find any details about the lawsuit itself because according to the UFW it was filed yesterday, but will update the story as facts are known.
In 2009 several workers were fired for reporting unsafe and unfair work practices, and for circulation of pro-union pledge cards.
Workers report a climate of fear at the dairy, which employs some forty people. They also report that they received less than the wages to which they were entitled, that they were required to work long hours without rest or lunch breaks, were not allowed sick leave with or without pay, and that they were required to use machinery without proper instruction or protection. Bengen, who is vocal in his opposition to the union and who has stated that a union would "take the fun away from diary farming" alleges that the workers were fired for cause.
The fired workers filed a lawsuit against the dairy, citing wage and hour and other state law violations.
Previous attempts by the UFW to put pressure on Northwest Farm Credit Services to intervene on behalf of the workers proved unsuccessful. According to their lending agreement with Ruby Ridge Dairy it is illegal for the dairy to engage in unlawful practices while they are under a lending contract with their organization. Despite the fact that the UFW gathered over 32,000 signatures on a petition and delivered it to their offices, NWFC declined to become involved.
The UFW is asking for support to push back against this attempt to union bust.
Ruby Ridge went ahead and did it. Yesterday, on February 17, it was announced that the UFW and 17 workers are now defendants in a lawsuit filed by Ruby Ridge. Amazing.
It’s clear to us that the real intent of the lawsuit is to try to quiet workers and get the UFW to stop supporting them. Isn't it enough that these workers suffered threats, intimidation and had to work through their rest and lunch breaks? Isn't it enough that Ruby Ridge fired them when they stood up for their rights?
As mentioned in my previous diary, Ruby Ridge is part of a dairy co-op that markets it's products in the US under the Darigold brand. The link above is to an email link that sends an email to Darigold CEO John Underwood, asking him to intervene on behalf of the UFW and the workers at Ruby Ridge.