February 2014
In This Issue
● Farm Workers Win
● Berry Pickers Seek Fair Wages
● Helping Homeowners Unlock Foreclosure Mediation


Click the video to learn about  how Columbia Legal Services' four advocacy projects work for justice.



Columbia Legal Services advocates for people who face injustice and poverty.  We seek social and economic justice for all, using policy reform, litigation, and innovative partnerships to reveal and end actions that harm the communities we serve.


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Lori Isley
 Bruce Neas
Dear Friend,

We are pleased to share the advocacy headlines of recent achievements on behalf of hard working families in our state.  Having just completed our first year leading the Working Families Project of Columbia Legal Services, we share a tremendous sense of gratitude that our work for justice continues to result in legal remedies which have improved working conditions and expanded opportunities for the diverse clients we serve.  With an advocacy focus on immigrant workers and foreclosure prevention, our statewide policy work and litigation have meant that thousands of clients in Washington can maintain housing for their families, work in safer environments, be paid for the wages they earn, and seek jobs.  We are honored to be involved in work that results in stronger, more stable communities.





Bruce Neas and Lori Isley

Coordinating Attorneys
Working Families Project

Working Families Project Advocacy Focus

The Working Families Project helps families establish and maintain their self-sufficiency and build strong communities. We advocate on behalf of our clients for safe and fair employment practices, economic opportunities, and reduced barriers to financial security. The Project employs a variety of advocacy strategies to support our clients, including legislative and administrative advocacy, negotiation, and litigation.

Yakima Valley Farm Workers Win   

Against Gunslinging Foreman  


Sandra Saucedo, picking apples

When Sandra Saucedo heard her foreman firing his pistol in the orchard where she was working, she called 911, fearing he would injure or kill someone. The foreman and his brother had been playing a bait-and-switch game with their wages, changing the piece rate offered mid-way through a job and using a gun to scare workers who complained. After Saucedo and several other co-workers were fired for making that call, they came to CLS.


"Farm work is hard enough without the foreman pulling out his gun to intimidate workers," said Saucedo. "We tried to complain to his brother and the people in the office, but they never took our complaints seriously." 


The farm workers won a $1M judgment and settled their individual claims.  The foreman is no longer employed at the orchards. According to Saucedo, the ruling is "a big victory that we hope will protect future workers."


Because the workers were hired by an unlicensed farm labor contractor, the subcontractor and the land owners, John Hancock Insurance affiliates, are also responsible for the judgment. The defendants have appealed to the Ninth Circuit.


More information is available in this article.

Berry Pickers Seek Fair Wages 

In the summer of 2013, berry pickers at Sakuma Brothers Farm, Inc. began an unprecedented effort to seek fair wages and working conditions for themselves and their families.


When Sakuma posted guards in on-farm housing areas to interfere with workers' organizing efforts, Kathy Barnard of Schwerin Campbell Barnard Iglitzin and Lavitt and Andrea Schmitt of CLS helped a group of workers win a restraining order against the guards.


In a separate suit, workers filed a proposed class action in federal court with assistance from the Working Families Project and attorneys from Terrell Marshall Daudt and Willie PLLC. The action seeks fairer wage practices and challenges the company's failure to provide the paid rest breaks required by Washington law.

More information available in this article, or read stories from the workers.

Helping Homeowners Unlock Foreclosure Mediation 


Homeowners facing foreclosure achieved ablue-doorknocker.jpg new right in Washington with the passage of the Foreclosure Fairness Act (FFA) in 2011. This landmark legislation included a right to mediation with the lender so that homeowners could explore all potential options for keeping their homes.


Unfortunately, some loan servicers are avoiding mediation by calling on a complicated term in the law, one that was originally intended to provide an exception for a very specific class of lenders in certain cases. As a result, hundreds of Washington homeowners could lose the chance to save their homes through foreclosure mediation.


The Working Families Project is representing a number of these homeowners in a case filed in Thurston County Superior Court. The lawsuit challenges the exclusion of homeowners from foreclosure mediation.
Working Families Project Team

Working Families Project Locations



101 Yesler Way, Suite 300

Seattle, WA 98104

(206) 464-5911

(800) 542-0794



711 Capitol Way S #304
Olympia, WA 98501
(360) 943-6260


                                  6 S. 2nd St. # 600 
Yakima, WA 98901 
(509) 575-5593 
(800) 631-1323
300 Okanogan Ave, Suite 2A
Wenatchee, WA 98801
(509) 662-9681
(800) 572-9615 

Website: http://www.columbialegal.org/index.php