PCUN (Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste - "United Treeplanters and Farmworkers of the Northwest"), Oregon's farmworker union, has declared two more victories in its continuing struggle to gain recognition for workers at the Pictsweet Mushrooms plant in Salem and at NORPAC farms throughout the Willamette Valley. |
Sodexho & NORPAC
Sodexho USA, one of the largest food service providers in the world, with contracts at 750 college campuses nationwide, has agreed to investigate the reasons behind PCUN's boycott against NORPAC. NORPAC is a cooperative of farmers and growers in Oregon that exports agricultural products across the country, and PCUN has been calling for a boycott against its products for ten years. Workers on NORPAC farms toil under difficult conditions, often making less than minimum wage and no overtime due to the per-pound payment methods that are common in agricultural jobs. Workers have also reported pesticide poisoning, unsanitary working conditions, and housing that is far below grade. Child labor is not uncommon. Since the majority of the workers are immigrants, many undocumented, many are afraid to ask for better treatment.
PCUN believes that student activism played a large part in Sodexho's decision and PCUN president Ramon Ramirez is currently touring East Coast college campuses to encourage more student support.
Pictsweet and the Salem City Council
On Monday night, the Salem City Council approved a resolution calling on the Pictsweet Mushroom Farm to sell their facility to another mushroom growing company and to offer severance pay to workers who will lose their jobs due to the facility's closure. The measure was introduced by Mayor Mike Swaim, who has been an active supporter of PCUN and the Pictsweet workers. Workers in the factory endure dangerous working conditions, and individuals have been fired for attempting to organize. Pictsweet has announced that the plant will be closed in November.
From the newswire: [ PCUN press release ]
Background on NORPAC & Pictsweet struggles: [ special feature: Walk for Farmworker Justice | interview: Mayor Swaim | story: "Pictsweet threatens to close plant in Salem" ]
Websites: [ PCUN | NORPAC ]