Sep 13, 2019
Federal judge in Washington state stops 50% pay hike for blueberry pickers

A federal judge has blocked the government from imposing a 50% wage hike for blueberry pickers in Washington state.

The Olympian in Olympia, Washington, reports U.S. District Court Judge Salvador Mendoza Jr. temporarily stopped the Department of Labor from implementing a July order raising wages for pickers.

According to the Olympian report, Zirkle Fruit southeast of Seattle sued to prevent the government from starting the new wage structure. The company was told to pay workers 75 cents a pound; workers received 50 cents in 2018. The average hourly rate for blueberry pickers was $17.13 at the 50-cent rate, the company said.

The government notified Zirkle of the new pay rate on July 24, a day after the increase actually took effect.

Zirkle said it was blindsided by the mid-harvest pay hike. The blueberry harvest began in June and continues through September.

The injunction will remain in effect until it is lifted or the case is resolved at trial.

In the interim, Zirkle is required to deposit the difference between the old and new wages, as well as taxes, into a trust account.

To view the complete Olympian report, visit here.


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