Agriculture workers strike in Yakima County over coronavirus

Workers at seven produce warehouses in central Washington state have walked off the job this week to protest what they call a lack of protections against the coronavirus pandemic.

The workers in Yakima County held signs Thursday asking employers for better COVID-19 safety measures, 6 feet of social distancing in the workplace, and protection from retaliation for protesting. They also want some warehouses to provide a hazard pay increase of $2 an hour.

The Yakima Herald-Republic reported that the strikes began on Monday among workers, who are mostly Hispanic, at the warehouses.

Yakima County has been hard-hit by coronavirus, with more than 2,100 cases and 73 deaths. The county of 250,000 people has had the highest rate of cases per 100,000 residents on the West Coast.

The county is a huge producer of fruits and vegetables, including many of the nation’s apples, cherries, hops and other produce.

Farmers contend they are implementing social distancing and sanitizing surfaces more often.

Those efforts have been enough for the Yakima Health District, which inspected numerous warehouses this week and decided the measures in place have met recommended guidelines. (AP)

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