More than 250 Pictsweet workers, people of faith, labor activists and students turned out to tell Pictsweet management that it's time to negotiate with PCUN, the union of the workers' choosing, and to stop the unjust firings and disciplinary actions against worker union activists.
Pictsweet mushrooms, owned by parent company United Foods, apparently took several steps to prepare for yesterday's protest. "No Tresspassing" signs were posted along the company's property line. But perhaps more significantly, workers were released early, around 3 p.m, instead of the
usual 6 p.m. in what's appears to have been an effort to reduce worker participation.
Yet these efforts were for naught. Workers turned out for the protest in droves. Supporters from Oregon Farm Worker Ministries, Mid-Valley Jobs with Justice, students from Portland State University, Western Oregon University
joined them on the picket line in front of the plant. At one point during the protest, a woman from inside the plant came out with a video camera and began filming. Workers immediately began a chant in Spanish: "Are we afraid?" "NO!"
The protest by all counts was an huge success. Pictsweet workers were encouraged by the large turnout of their co-workers and by the community. Fired Pictsweet worker Javier Velacquez thanked all who turned out. PCUN organizer Leonides Avila shared a message of support from Pictsweet workers in the Ventura, CA plant who are engaged in a more than a year long struggle to obtain a contract.
Check out our website on Monday for pictures from the march and more information. As one Pictsweet worker said yesterday; "today we send a message that workers and the community are standing together. But this protest is only the beginning. We have a lot of work to do."