Nearly 60 farmworkers from a rural Washington state community just outside of Seattle said they were stranded with no way to get home last week after refusing to work for less than minimum wage.
The workers were bused to a Stemilt Grower’s Apple Orchard, where they were told they’d only make roughly $25 for about four to five hours of work, local news station KIMA-TV reports. When the workers refused to pick for that amount, they say they were left stranded miles away from their homes. (The current federal minimum wage is $7.25.)
“It’s completely outrageous,” Gorge Valenzuela with United Farm Workers told KIMA-TV. “You have workers with no way home. They had to walk an hour and a half just to get to the street so they could wave at cars to find a way home, which is an hour and half away.”
Managers from Stemilt told KIMA-TV they didn’t know about the problem until later in the afternoon, and if they’d known sooner, they would have helped get the workers home.
Stemilt is the nation’s largest supplier of sweet cherries and organic tree fruits, as well as a key supplier of Washington-grown apples, pears and stone fruit, according to the company’s website.