KGMI (Bellingham, Washington)

August 11, 2017


Sumas farm worker representative calls Sarbanand statement “a lie”


SUMAS, Wash. – More contradictory information pours in concerning a Sumas blueberry farm where a Mexican worker got sick and later died.

Several Sarbanand Farm employees said they told management about their concerns with the hot and smoky working conditions. They were later fired for complaining, the workers said.

The company contradicted them. The company’s chief administrative officer Cliff Woolley told the Lynden Tribune no one complained.

Rosalinda Guillen with Community to Community Development represents the farm workers, and took issue with the contradictory statement. “I wouldn’t say that’s a contradiction, I would say that’s a lie,” Guillen said.

The company said Honesto Silva Ibarra died from complications related to diabetes after he ran out of medicine, but the employees believe the working conditions contributed to his death.

“The farm worker died from overwork, from overexertion, during a very bad air quality time,” Guillen said.

Guillen said she did not know if Ibarra had diabetes and hopes an autopsy will reveal what caused Ibarra’s death.

The State Department of Labor and Industries is investigating.