Gebbers Farms Reveals Plan to Invest Nearly $2M to Improve Worker Housing; Cass Gebbers Discusses
BREWSTER, WA - A successful settlement between Gebbers Farms and Washington State Department of Labor and Industries has been announced following allegations of COVID-19 regulation violations. In tandem with the announcement, a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that workers who lived in Gebbers-provided housing were three times less likely to contract COVID-19 than other workers living in the community. Furthermore, the study found that the Gebbers workforce had a positive rate of only 0.7 percent.
“Gebbers Farms has always cared deeply about the wellbeing and safety of its workers,” said Cass Gebbers, Chief Executive Officer. “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 non-profits.”
The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries originally assessed a $2.06 million fine for alleged violations in July 2020, although Gebbers Farms had implemented COVID-response protocols that it developed in consultation with an infectious disease specialist.
Under the terms of the mediation agreement, Gebbers Farms will now:
- Make $1.4 million in improvements to its facilities, including entirely new farmworker housing and sports facilities, landscaping around housing areas, additional air conditioning units, and location signage at each camp
- Continue supporting local causes 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
According to a press release, Gebbers Farms has posted copies of this agreement in common areas for employees to read.
“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,” added Gebbers.
Stick with ANUK as we continue to cover the efforts made to protect agricultural workers from the COVID-19 virus.