Fruit packers across Yakima Valley are walking out of work, as it seems strikes among these essential workers are spreading rapidly. This as the industry says it's doing all it can to protect workers as it deals with extremely tough times.
Over 100 workers at both Matson Fruit Company in Selah and Jack Frost Fruit in Yakima walked out on the job today, joining workers across the valley like those at Allan Brothers Fruit who have already gone on strike. They say they're calling for hazard pay and safer working conditions.
"We were just asking for a little. We're not asking for a lot. Something to say thank you because we're coming in, risking our lives, risking our families," says Celia Uscanga.
When it comes to safety, local companies say that is their top priority, and that they've already made major changes.
"We believe that we're meeting and exceeding a lot of the safety requirements at this time," says a representative at Jack Frost, Brian Bruner.
Jordan Matson of Matson Fruit stated in an email that in all of their operations throughout the state, they've had just three workers test positive for COVID-19, and three others who are presumed positive. He says they've met with someone at the Yakima Health District to see what more they can do to keep workers safe.
Bruner says it's hard to say how badly strikes like this will impact the industry. “How it's going to impact? I mean, I guess time will tell," says Bruner.