Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

Fruit Workers Strike for PPE and Hazard Pay

Workers in three fruit warehouses in Washington state are on strike for hazard pay, PPE and other protections.

Maria Aurelio

May 13, 2020
Facebook Twitter Share
Image by Familias Unidas por la Justicia

Three different fruit warehouses have gone on strike over the past week in Washington: Allan Brothers Fruit, Matson Fruit and Jack Frost Fruit. Deemed essential, these workers are forced to go to work without sufficient PPE or hazard pay. These workers live in fear of getting the virus and of getting their families sick. Allan Brothers Fruit has had walkouts for the past 6 days, inspiring workers in the other two warehouses to follow their lead.  The majority of these workers are not unionized, and many are undocumented and uninsured. Familias Unidas por la Justicia, an independent farmworkers union in the area has helped organize these actions.

On Friday, workers at the Allan Brothers Fruit warehouse staged a walkout. 12 co-workers had tested positive for COVID-19, and the company hasn’t provided safety equipment or even notified the workers that others had contracted COVID. According to Jennifer Garton, a worker there, it took a couple of weeks for the company to say anything. 

In fact, one worker talked about asking a supervisor to tell co-workers that she might have COVID after she had a fever, shortness of breath, and difficulty breathing. She said, “I wanted to let them know because if it was the virus, I wanted the people I work with to know about it so they could take precautions at home. A lot of them have elderly people at home, others have children under the age of 2, newborns even.” The supervisor did not pass the information on to workers: “No one even knew that I was sick,” the worker said. Since she doesn’t have health insurance, she had to pay 100 dollars out of pocket for the COVID test: If she tests positive, the company will cover the cost; if she tests negative, they won’t.

The lack of safe working conditions is also jarring: There isn’t consistent access to hand washing or hand sanitizing. “Where I work, they haven’t been cleaning at all like they said they were going to,” Garton said. “Now we’re completely out of hand sanitizer and there’s no sinks at the shipping dock.”

Workers are too packed in the warehouse to be able to respect social distancing, and not everyone is even being provided a mask! “The way we work, we can’t just be six feet apart from each other,” a line worker who wished to remain anonymous said. “They try … but it’s impossible in our line of work.”

Instead of staying home, more than 50 workers stood in front of the plant at an appropriate social distance. They have continued their strike for six days now, demanding $2 hazard pay and PPE. 

Yesterday, inspired by the actions of workers at Allan Brothers Food Company, workers at two other warehouses, Matson Fruit and Jack Frost Fruit, also walked off the job. Workers there too stood in front of the warehouses for rallies at a safe social distance. They spoke out for tests, PPE, and hazard pay. 

Fruit packing and fruit warehouse workers are essential workers who keep food supply chains running: They ensure that there is fruit at the supermarket for everyone to eat. However, these “hidden” essential workers, precarious, often undocumented and Latinx, are not getting any of the protection or compensation necessary to carry out their jobs, while their bosses continue to profit from their labor. All over the country, from Amazon warehouses to meatpackers, workers are experiencing the same conditions. In order to fight, these sectors should unite to not only fight the bosses but take into their own hands the production of these essential goods in order to serve the community, not the bosses.

Facebook Twitter Share

United States

Police office crouches behind a riot shield which reads "Shelby Township Police"

BLM Leader In Court to Challenge Racist and Retaliatory Charges

A Detroit leader of the Black Lives Matter movement is set to appear in court to challenge racist and retaliatory felony charges for marching to demand the firing of a Chief of Police who called BLM protestors “subhuman” and said they belonged in “body bags”.

Somali troops stand in formation during a graduation ceremony after being trained by U.S. forces in Mogadishu on Aug. 17, 2018.

Biden Is Expanding U.S. Military Intervention in Somalia

President Biden recently approved an order to send hundreds of troops to Somalia. This move serves the interests of U.S. imperialism by taking advantage of the very political instability it helped create.

Sam Carliner

May 20, 2022
Semi-empty store shelf with a few cans of baby formula.

The Baby Formula Shortage Is a Capitalist Crisis of Social Reproduction

The baby formula shortage is a consequence of capitalism and a crisis of social reproduction. Formula should not be commodified and sold — it should be free and a basic right for all parents.

In the Latest Primaries, the Battle within the Parties Continues

Tuesday's primaries delivered wins to Trump endorsed candidates and some progressives, signaling that the fight for the parties is far from over.

Ezra Brain

May 18, 2022

MOST RECENT

The Kids Are Alright: Meet the 17 Year Olds That Want to Unionize Starbucks

They haven't finished high school yet, but they are already fighting to organize the first union at Starbucks in the San Francisco Bay Area. Driven by the unionization wave sweeping the country, two 17-year-olds are organizing with their coworkers through a chat called "Union Babes" and fighting the company's union-busting campaigns.

People protest in support of the unionizing efforts of the Alabama Amazon workers, in Los Angeles, California, March 22, 2021.

Amazon Won’t Stop Union Busting and Firing Organizers

Amazon hasn't recognized the Amazon Labor Union and, like Starbucks, is continuing to union bust and fire organizers.

Luigi Morris

May 20, 2022
A protester waves a sign that read "unionize" near the Country Club Plaza Starbucks store where dozens of Starbucks employees and union supporters protested alleged anti-union tactics by the company Thursday, March 3, 2022.

El Paso Starbucks Workers Are Organizing in the Face of Relentless Union Busting

Starbucks’s preemptive union-busting tactics in El Paso, Texas, have backfired and inspired workers at the Fountains to unionize.

Paul Ginestá

May 20, 2022
SEIU local 721 members at a rally wearing purple and holding signs for fair wage increases.

SEIU 721, Vote No! A Better Contract Is Possible

Union leaders of SEIU 721 have reached a deal with the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. But there are big problems with the proposed agreement, and the rank and file should vote against it.

Left Voice

May 20, 2022