Posted on October 24, 2011

Fruit-Picking Jobs Not So Plentiful

Herald Net, October 21, 2011

In response to the letters “Ag jobs show guest workers needed” and “How many willing to pick fruit?”:

After reading the article about pickers needed in “Northwest Briefly” on Oct. 17, I decided to drive over to Wenatchee to see about picking apples. I am an unemployed carpenter so hard physical labor is not new to me. I also knew that making $150 a day was not likely. That is what the top pickers make and I am far from a top picker. I had a place to stay over there and figured if I could make at least $80 a day it would be worth my while.

There was no contact information in the article so off I drove. I got a number to contact at a convenience store in Cashmere. They had taken down an advertisement Sunday and I was the second person to ask about picking Monday. The number they gave me was for Wenatchee Work Source. They needed pickers. They asked me if I had any experience. I told them I had picked on weekends in college 30 years ago. They told me they wanted pickers with at least a season of experience. (Three months.) They couldn’t help me.

I drove back to Dryden to NW Wholesale Inc. They packed pears but gave me numbers to contact.

Blue Star: I called and they told me they were pretty much done.


Stimilt East Unit: I got an answering machine and left a message.

I then drove from Dryden to Wenatchee on all the back roads looking for any “pickers needed” signs. I saw none. I called Stimilt again at 4:30 p.m. and got an answering machine and left a message. It is now Wednesday and I am here in Mountlake Terrace still waiting for a return call.

I am a U.S. born Anglo American willing and able to climb those ladders and pick that fruit.

I did not get the chance.

Daniel E. Thrasher

Mountlake Terrace

Herald Net, October 19, 2011

As I read the Tuesday letter, “Enforce illegal immigration law,” I was reminded of a Herald article tucked in the Oct. 17 “Northwest Briefly” section, where the governor described thes hortage of apple pickers as “dire.” With the unemployment rate running around 9 percent, not many of our “legal citizens” want to pick apples.

Growers are offering up to $150 a day. Even with that, the governor reports, “We’re not getting anybody to take a bite on these jobs . . . ” (Did she intend the “bite” pun?) While the author of the Tuesday letter tells us “not to worry about hurt feelings” when enforcing immigration laws, there are a lot of hard-working farmers in this state worrying about more than “hurt feelings” this season. {snip}

Am I endorsing illegal immigration? Of course not. But the old argument that illegal workers are taking “American” jobs has once again been shown to be a red herring. If anything, we need to demand that our politicians create a rational, predictable, and enforceable guest worker law that allows temporary immigrants to do things Americans won’t do–like agricultural labor.

Francis J. Lynch