RICHLAND, Wash. (AP) — A mandated wage increase for Washington state blueberry pickers may cause one fruit company to end its harvest early.
The Capital Press reported Tuesday that Zirkle Fruit Company of Selah says its season may be ended prematurely by a 50% wage increase ordered by the U.S. Department of Labor.
Zirkle Fruit says it is awaiting the outcome of an Aug. 29 hearing, during which a federal judge will decide whether to uphold the increase.
The company 139 miles (224 kilometers) southeast of Seattle says it will pay the increase for workers back to July 24 before deciding whether to complete the harvest.
A company attorney says in a lawsuit filed Aug. 7 that the “unprecedented wage jump” would cause a “calamitous” increase in labor costs.