Since last week, Yakima Valley workers who sort and package Washington fruit have experienced one of the nation’s worst outbreaks of COVID-19, and have launched an unprecedented wave of strikes demanding safer working conditions and hazard pay.
The Yakima Valley has the highest rate of COVID-19 on the West Coast. Most workers in agriculture are essential, and are often stuck working shoulder to shoulder in indoor processing facilities. On May 7th, over 100 workers at Allan Brothers Fruit walked off the job, demanding safe conditions and hazard pay after fourteen of their co-workers got sick with COVID-19, and after management did little to inform workers or implement safety guidelines. A wave of strikes followed, with over 1,000 workers on strike at seven different facilities.
Striking workers need support to sustain their courageous stand:
- Call management and urge them to negotiate, and not to retaliate against striking workers.
Allan Bros. Fruit in Naches, WA (509) 653-2625
Hansen Fruit in Yakima (509) 457-4153
Jack Frost Fruit Co. in Yakima, WA (509) 248-5231
Matson Fruit Co. in Selah, WA (509) 697-7100
Monson Fruit Co. in Selah, WA (509) 697-9175
Columbia Ranch in Yakima, WA (509) 457-8001
- Donate to Familias Unidas por la Justicia (FUJ) and Community to Community Development (C2C), which have been on the ground supporting the workers from day one.
- If you know people in the area, point them here to plug in.
- Follow FUJ and C2C on Facebook to receive farmworker updates.
These strikes are unprecedented, and the agricultural industry is incredibly powerful; the largely immigrant workforce has endured low pay and bad conditions for generations.
I got to work with Rosalinda, Edgar, and Ramon for four years during a campaign to win a union contract at Sakuma Bros. Berry Farm in the Skagit Valley. They are incredibly dedicated and talented organizers, deeply committed to tackling the climate crisis by farmworker organizing and fighting for a just and sustainable agricultural system.
Community support is critical to getting these workers the resources they need to keep up morale and stay out until their demands are met. Organizers are spending money on masks, hand sanitizer, port-a-potties, gas, food, hand-washing stations, and more. Please help however you can!
Andrew, 350 Seattle
(all photos taken by Edgar Franks)
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Seattle, WA 98102