Sakuma Brothers Farms

Brett Davis / Washington Farm Bureau

Steve Sakuma, one of the owners of Sakuma Brothers Farms, a Skagit Valley berry farm that’s been in the spotlight for a labor dispute, calls President Obama’s announcement on immigration a "good first step." But he says it doesn’t solve a labor shortage the farm has faced.

In the past, Sakuma has called the current immigration system broken, saying it’s not good to have so many workers living in the shadows and it limits their upward mobility. For that reason, Sakuma praised the president’s move to protect some workers from deportation and let them work here legally.

Ashley Gross

A Skagit County Superior Court judge sided with migrant berry pickers on Thursday by ordering their employer, Sakuma Brothers Farms, to provide housing for the workers' family members. 

The workers took the farm owners to court over a new policy to no longer provide housing for workers’ family members. They argued the policy was intended as punishment for workers who went on strike last year.

David Cravioto

Even as the summer berry season gets underway, some of the workers who pick those berries have been battling with a Skagit County farm in court. They’ve challenged Sakuma Brothers Farms over its new policy to no longer provide housing for workers’ family members. 

Brett Davis / Washington Farm Bureau

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

Editor's note: The story has been updated to clarify that the berry pickers formed a workers' association. They did not form a union by holding an election under the National Labor Relations Act.

Berry pickers who went on strike at Sakuma Brothers Farms in Skagit County several times last year have filed a suit against the company, alleging retaliation. The workers say Sakuma has blacklisted many of them from working this summer as payback for their walkouts.