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Labor Rules Put Oregon Blueberries In A Jam

Members of Oregon’s Congressional Delegation are still waiting for the U.S. Labor Department to clarify the policies that led it to seize some shipments of Oregon blueberries this summer.

Blueberries are in season, just in time for summer.

Blueberries are in season, just in time for summer.

Lee Tibbitts/USGS

Back in August, six members of the Oregon delegation sent off a letter to U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.  They wanted her to provide some clarification on how the department enforces the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Members were responding to reports that inspectors had blocked some shipments of Oregon blueberries by farmers accused of infractions such as minimum wage violations.

The group is concerned that farmers who are unjustly accused can’t afford to mount a challenge while their fruit rots in storage.

On the House floor this week, Representative Greg Walden said it’s been more than a hundred days and the group is still waiting for a response.

“We know the department can move with great speed when it wants to, when it’s trying to shut down a farm with little due process or appeal.  So why does it take so long to get answers for Oregon farmers.”

Labor Department Spokesman Josh Lamont says the Department plans to respond in writing in the next few weeks. 

On the Web

Oregon Farm Bureau information on ‘hot goods’ controversy