SEATTLE, Wash. - Widow protests outside Darigold HQ over safety issues
Organized by the United Farm Workers Union, protesters marched on the Seattle headquarters of Darigold, calling for safer working conditions.
With them was the widow of Randy Vasquez, a father of three killed in February when his front-end loader fell in a manure pit while working the night shift at the Riverview Dairy.
“My heart dropped at that moment, pain and then knowing the way I lost him is very hurtful,” his widow, Nubia Guajardo, said in an interview.
Darigold is a farmer-owned cooperative and Riverview Dairy is one of its 500 members.
A Washington Department of Labor and Industries investigation found there were no warning signs, no fence around the manure pit
, and no rescue equipment nearby ,. Riverview is appealing a $6,800 fine.
Protesters brought a mock casket to the door of Darigold headquarters. Inside were 38,000 signatures on petitions
, asking for a meeting on farm safety issues.
Asked what she wants to say to Darigold, Guajardo responded, “To care for their workers, to have a better working environment for them.”
Darigold did not invite the protesters inside, but did send KIRO-7 a statement.
"This accident was truly an anomaly." it said.
"It is our understanding that the dairy where Mr. Vasquez worked has had a very good safety record.
"Our sincere sympathy is offered to the family of Mr. Vasquez."
State Rep. Brady Walkinshaw, who joined the protest, says he'll push for better safety regulations next year.
“Well, I think you just need to look at the data and there are states with much lower injury and workplace injury in this industry,” he said.
KIRO-7 obtained records from the state Department of Labor and Industries, which show 10 fatal accidents at Washington dairy farms in the last 15 years.