Yakima agricultural workers caravan to state capitol, ask for better protections during COVID-19

OLYMPIA, Wash. — After several weeks on strike, fruit packing workers in Yakima County took to the state capitol Tuesday, asking for the governor’s office to step in and ensure workers’ safety during the pandemic.

Just after sunrise, 27 workers from Allan Bros. in Naches and Columbia Reach in Yakima formed a caravan of cars that would take them all to Olympia.

Workers stopped at the Department of Labor & Industries headquarters in Tumwater to deliver labor complaints and then made their way to Gov. Jay Inslee’s mansion, where they demanded a response from the governor on the continuing strikes.

Speaking on behalf of the governor, spokesperson Mike Faulk provided KAPP-KVEW with the following statement:

“We have had discussions with groups representing workers on strike in Yakima. We take their issues very seriously.

Our office and cabinet agencies are actively involved with growers and labor advocates on COVID-19 workplace requirements. The departments of Health and Labor & Industries previously filed emergency rules on temporary worker housing. Further requirements for worksites and employer-provided transportation are expected this week.

Some matters related to this labor dispute must be resolved independently between growers and workers. However, we hope the requirements under development aid both parties in reaching a healthy resolution.”