Strikes spread in Yakima Valley

Thursday, May 14, 2020
Strikes spread in Yakima Valley

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Workers at multiple fruit warehouses in the Yakima Valley have walked off the job and are conducting wildcat strikes to demand safer working conditions, paid sick leave, hazard pay, and protection from retaliation amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since May 7, when workers at Allan Brothers fruit packing warehouse in Naches went on strike, workers have walked off the jobs at Roche Fruit in Yakima, Frosty Packing in Yakima, Hansen Fruit in Yakima, and Matson Fruit and Monson Fruit, both in Selah. (The Roche Fruit strike was settled within hours when management agreed to $100/week raises for its employees.)

This weekend, organizers expect that six or more fruit warehouses will be on strike.

"While most of this state is safe at home, these essential workers are toiling in unsafe conditions and getting poverty wages while they risk their lives to maintain our food supply," said Dulce Gutiérrez, an organizer with the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO. "Other essential workers in our hospitals, grocery stores and elsewhere are rightly being hailed as heroes during the COVID-19 pandemic. These folks maintaining our food supply chain are also heroes, but they are being treated like they are disposable. And they are rising up to demand safe workplaces and fair pay."