KENNEWICK — A Washington labor union for farm workers has sued two state agencies, asking a Thurston County Superior Court judge to strike down emergency rules on temporary housing.
Union president Ramon Torres says the rules do not protect farm workers who live in dormitory-style housing during the harvest season.
The Tri-City Herald reports the lawsuit was filed last week by the union Familias Unidas por la Justicia because of fears sparked by the coronavirus pandemic.
The lawsuit asks the court to repeal parts of the emergency housing rules adopted by the Department of Labor & Industries and the Department of Health, which are the respondents in the lawsuit.
Washington agricultural employers plan to bring in approximately 30,000 farm workers from rural areas of Mexico under nonimmigrant, temporary H-2A work visas from the federal government.
Many work in Yakima County, which has the highest COVID-19 infection rate in the state.
The union opposes the emergency rules in part because they allow workers to sleep on both levels of bunk beds in dormitories.