Gebbers Farms announced a successful settlement with the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries for alleged violations of COVID-19 regulations.

According to a news release from Gebbers, Labor and Industries originally assessed a $2.06 million fine for alleged violations in July 2020. Gebbers Farms had implemented COVID-19 response protocols developed in consultation with an infectious disease specialist. A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that workers who lived in housing provided by Gebbers were three times less likely to contract COVID-19 than workers who lived in the community. The study also showed the Gebbers workforce had a positive COVID-19 rate of 0.7 percent.

Under the terms of the mediation agreement, Gebbers Farms will:

—Make $1.4 million dollars in improvements to its facilities, including new farmworker housing and sports facilities, additional air conditioning units, landscaping and location signage.

—Continue supporting local communities by donating more than $500,000 to local health, safety and child development organizations.

—Install a cell tower to improve cellular service for workers and communities.

—Hire a full-time safety officer to oversee the development and implementation of Gebbers Farms’ existing and new worker safety programs.

—Pay a fine of $10,000.

Gebbers Farms has posted copies of this agreement in common areas for employees to read.

“Gebbers Farms has always cared deeply about the wellbeing and safety of its workers,” said Cass Gebbers, CEO of Gebbers Farms. “Each year, Gebbers Farms makes improvements to its temporary housing facilities to enhance the safety and comfort of its workers. This mediation agreement will result in even more improvements, and it will benefit the community at large through the farm’s donations to community charities and nonprofits.

“Although we are pleased this issue is resolved, we have not forgotten the thousands who lost loved ones during this pandemic. Sadly, in 2020, Gebbers Farms also lost longtime team members and familiar faces to our family. These men, their families, and all Gebbers employees are part of the reason why we are gratified that the agreement includes our continued investment in our workers and our local communities.” 

by Jonelle Mejica