Edgar Franks, LNS Board member since 2019, is the Washington State Campaign and Political Director for the independent union Familias Unidas por la Justicia where he works with union leadership and allies in the development and implementation of the Just Transition framework that centers food sovereignty and worker organizing in innovative models of participatory democracy, such as People’s Movement Assemblies and Tribunals.
Edgar and Familias Unidas por la Justicia just helped tulip workers win a significant battle at Washington Bulb, the largest tulip grower in the US. Two weeks before the celebrated Skagit Valley Tulip Festival ninety workers, many of whom were already members of Familias Unidas at another company, pulled a “lightning strike” and forced the owners of Washington Bulb to negotiate with them. The workers presented 16 demands, including pay for work the employer required them to perform on unpaid time; more and cleaner bathrooms; protective gloves; and respectful treatment from supervisors. The workers won all their major demands except union recognition – but the company agreed to meet regularly with the workers committee.
Commenting on this victory, Edgar said,
Direct action is what makes things move,” Franks says. “People put up with a lot because they’re scared that they could be unemployed. But when workers go on strike, they lose that fear, they push back, and that’s what makes things move. Direct action is the most valuable tool we have, and the bosses’ biggest fear. When workers take that leap of faith they can see the world in a whole new way, and recognize their own true value.
Edgar has strong farmworker roots in Skagit County, WA where he grew up. Edgar honed his organizing skills supporting the formation of the first independent farmworker union in WA State since 1986. As an organizer he works in Whatcom and Skagit Counties and sometimes travels to Eastern WA to meet with farm workers as needed and supports their organizing efforts working with union organizers of Familias Unidas por la Justicia. Before joining Familias Unidas, Edgar served as the Civic Engagement Program Coordinator at Community to Community Development, working to engage allies to develop strategies that ensure the voices of farmworkers are represented at all levels of the political process.