farm workers

Bellamy Pailthorp Photo / KPLU News

For the second time this month, about 200 berry pickers at a Skagit Valley farm have walked off the job.

The workers are striking over pay for the boxes of blueberries and strawberries they harvest at Sakuma Brothers Farms in Burlington. Many of those berries are sold to Haagen-Dazs for ice cream. The workers in question have been earning $3.50 per a flat of blueberries, which is about 12 pints. They say they can’t pick them fast enough to earn a fair wage.

A Washington state organic farm has been fined $1 million for firing, then rehiring illegal immigrants following a federal audit.

Northwest farm groups are cheering a federal decision this week to dump proposed child labor rules. The Department of Labor decided to withdraw the plan after it received thousands of comments opposing the change. But child safety advocates say the fierce opposition was based on faulty information.

Politicians from farm and ranch country called the regulations an attack on family farms, going as far to say the rules could outlaw chores and 4-H for farm kids.

However, the regulations specifically exempted children working on farms owned or operated by their parents.

Federal prosecutors say a Washington state herb farm forced to fire more than 200 illegal immigrants because of a government audit, rehired dozens of those workers — paid them cash and asked them to work at night — because production began to plummet.