Zirkle Fruit Company in Selah will close its apple packing operations in Prosser starting in October leaving 300 people without jobs. The company says it's part of a plan to improve efficiency and it also puts the company in a better position to respond to customer requests.
Zirkle is also saying it may end the blueberry harvest early because of a mandated wage increase for blueberry pickers. The 50% wage increased is a result of an order by the U.S. Department of Labor. An August 29 hearing is set in which a federal judge will make a decision on whether the increase will stand.
The company filed a lawsuit earlier this month saying the wage increase would cause a major increase "or calamitous" increase in the cost of labor.