Blueberry Wage Hike Pt 2

Blueberry Wage Hike Pt 2

Bob Larson
Bob Larson
With today's Fruit Grower Report, I'm Bob Larson. A judge is expected to decide this week if a state Department of Employment Services decision to boost pay for H-2A piece workers 50% will stand.

According to Washington Blueberry Commission Executive Director Alan Schreiber the government claims to have come to this number based on interviews with growers ...

SCHREIBER ... "They're saying that the average rate of people they surveyed for picking was .75 cents a pound, and I talk to enough growers that represent, I'm going to say, 80% or more of the fresh production, and nobody is paying close to .75 cents."

And, Schreiber says it appears the DES results will remain a mystery ...

SCHREIBER ... "I don't know how they came up with this number and apparently, they will not tell us how they came up with the number. They won't give us the survey results, and the government's response, that they filed with the court, is hardball, it's hardball. And, they're telling us to "go take a hike."

He says Selah-based Zirkle Fruit is challenging the decision ...

SCHREIBER ... "Zirkle told me that almost every one of their pickers makes at least $18 an hour if you're an H-2A worker. That does not include the housing you're getting. So, housing is on top of that. But, these folks, they told me that most people are in the $20 to $25 dollar's an hour range."

So, where would consumers get their fresh blueberries if this wage hike is upheld?

SCHREIBER ... "What would happen is, people will buy them from British Columbia."

Listen tomorrow for more on the H-2A wage hike and who it's likely to impact most.

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