Washington State, one of the first major US outbreaks of the COVID-19 pandemic, is also a major producer of the USA’s domestic food supply. More than 70% of America’s apples come from Washington, and more than 100,000 Washingtonians are employed in the agricultural industry. In this context, the same issues faced by farm workers across the country are of heightened urgency in the state of Washington.
Across WA, farm workers have joined other essential workers to do their part to ensure that people across the nation continue to have access to the most basic necessity of life: food.
It isn’t benevolent to provide adequate protections for farm workers. Protecting the wellbeing of is protecting the domestic food supply of this country.
Their continued work comes with extreme sacrifice and risk. We’re calling on consumers and elected officials to stand with farm workers, healthcare workers and everyone else who cannot shelter at home during a pandemic. Agricultural workers are excluded from the labor rights which protect most other workers, so even amongst essential workers, they are uniquely unprotected.
Essential workers need essential rights. It is our hope to see leadership from legislative and industry partners to take steps to protect essential workers across the state of Washington.
In order to protect the domestic food supply, Washington farm workers, with UFW’s support, express the following critically urgent needs:
-Emergency, no cost childcare
-Sick Leave-Hazard pay
-Assured access to sanitizing materials
-Social distancing standards implemented where they work and where they live
For those of us now at home, protecting ourselves and our families from the COVID-19 outbreak, we must use every opportunity to show gratitude and respect to the human beings continuing their work to keep us safe, healthy and fed.