The Washington State Labor Council (WSLC) appears to be scheming to unionize the dairy industry in our state. And, appallingly enough, it is using the tragic death of dairy worker Randy Vasquez as a means to its end.
Last week, protestors gathered outside Darigold’s Seattle headquarters to call on the dairy cooperative to meet with the United Farm Workers to talk about dairy farm safety. The protesters have the support of Democrat state Representative Brady Walkinshaw of Seattle who is “planning to introduce a bill to improve dairy farm safety – such as requiring more inspections and training.”
Of course, the safety of dairy workers – of all workers – is a noble goal. It is an absolute necessity for policy makers. What is not an absolute necessity is the involvement of the United Farm Workers, a labor union that has targeted Darigold for unionization for years.
Darigold responded to the protest by pointing out that Vasquez’s death was “truly an anomaly.” Via KPLU,
“‘It is our understanding that the dairy where Mr. Vasquez worked has had a very good safety record,’ Darigold said. “‘Nonetheless, the farm owner is committed to a thorough examination of what happened, looking at all information as it becomes available and, if appropriate, making changes.’”
On the Sunday before Labor Day, WSLC President Jeff Johnson issued a statement reiterating the protest’s demands. Johnson called for Darigold to “meet and work with the United Farm Workers union and the Washington State Labor Council to improve dairy worker health and safety.” And, he used the circumstances behind Vasquez’s death to make his appeal.
Politicizing tragedy is a strategy that big labor has long relied on to rally support for its schemes. This time around, big labor is using a tragic accident to expand its reach on an industry that has kept small business owners alive since 1918.
The truth is that Darigold—a dairy cooperative, not a corporation as big labor would like people to believe—is helping keep small farmers in our region in business. Thousands depend on the cooperative’s continued success. That includes 500 families across Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Northern California, Montana and Idaho. And, more than 1,400 employees.
An attack on Darigold by big labor would be a hard setback to recover from, promising to impact the cooperative’s ability to retain its position as one of our nation’s leading dairy producers. By all means, Darigold should continue to improve safety standards. But, by no means should the United Farm Workers or the WSLC use blackmail to force their way into the picture.