LEGISLATIVE WORK SESSION OF NOVEMBER 16TH, 2017

WA State House of Representatives
Labor and Workplace Standards Committee

On November 16, 2017, Familias Unidas por la Justicia President Ramon Torres was able to make a presentation before the Washington State House Labor and Workplace Standards Committee in a Work Session on Agricultural Workplace Standards specifically as it relates to the guest worker (H-2A) program. It was critically important for Washington state’s representatives making decisions on labor to hear from Ramon who this summer travelled from Sumas to Kennewick in response to calls for help from the many guest workers brought into our state and placed in intolerable conditions.

Also discussed in the work session were issues related to sexual harassment as it relates to farmworkers, and pesticide related illnesses for farm workers in this two-hour work session. The House Committee members present for the work session were Rep. Mike Sells (38th), Chair of the Committee, Rep. Matt Manweller (13th), Rep. Beth Doglio (22nd), Rep. Noel Frame (36th) and Rep. Gina McCabe (14th). The work session included presentations from Washington State Agencies including Alberto Isidiorda from the Employment Securities Department, Elizabeth Smith and Anne Soiza from Labor and Industries and Joanne Prado from the Department of Health as well as Victoria Breckwich Vasquez from the University of Washington. Other stakeholders making presentations at the work session were Indira Trejo, United Farmworkers of America, Josephina Luciano, farmworker and Mike Gempler, Washington Growers League.

Work Sessions are vehicles for addressing and reviewing major issues in an area affecting Washington State. These sessions provide opportunities for members to focus on long-term decisions rather than a specific piece of legislation that confront our state.

Ramon’s testimony is below as well as other presentations made at this work session. This was the first time a representative from a local independent farm worker union has testified at a Legislative Work Session. Historically it has been difficult for farm workers to attend and testify in Olympia due to cost and long travel distances. His testimony came from many hours of conversations with farm workers in the fields.

Familias Unidas por la Justicia Testimony to the WA House Labor & Workplace Standards Committee

Below are links to presentations given by State agencies:

Elizabeth Smith of Washington State Department of Labor and Industries

Alberto Isidiorda of the Employment Securities Department

Victoria Breckwich Vasquez of the University of Washington

Joanne Prado from the WA Department of Health