Nothing says spring is in bloom like the renowned Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. Friday kicked off the first day of the annual event and will run through April 30. Thousands of people, locally and nationally, make the trip to Mount Vernon every year. Visiting the blossoming fields has been a tradition for several families.
The attraction and tourism is not possible without the workers who plant the bulbs to the budding flowers. 94 employees unionized through independent farmworker union Familias Unidas por la Justicia. They went on strike for better pay and protective gear. After three days on the picket lines and two days of negotiations, the Washington Bulb Company and the union reached an agreement on the eve of the highly anticipated festival.
"It was a good faith on the company to really open up the negotiation table and try to resolve this as quickly as possible. So, I thought that was a really positive sign," said Edgar Franks, political director for Familias Unidas por la Justicia. The demands that were signed off on include the use of gloves, rain gear, boots, goggles, Hydrocortisone cream, 8 hour work days, and improved paid sick leave.
Washington Bulb Company also agreed to increase worker bonus pay on flower bunches and daily stems picked. The company wrote in a statement: "Washington Bulb Company is always willing to listen to the critiques, criticisms, concerns, or any other feedback presented by our employees. We recognize there are areas for improvement within the company and hearing each individual’s voice is integral to seeking progressive solutions. Washington Bulb Company greatly values the importance of our employees to both this company and greater community. We would not be here today without each one of our employs and look forward to working for a better future together."
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