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Worker shortage hampers onion harvest

By Pat Caldwell
The Enterprise
NYSSA —Kay Riley, general manager of Snake River Produce in Nyssa, can’t find enough workers.
Neither can Grant Kitamura, general manager of Baker-Murakami Produce Company in Ontario. Both men, executives of two of the county’s biggest onion packing firms, are desperate to find enough employees as the $80 million onion industry starts its harvest.
“If we were not trying to harvest we’d probably be OK. But we are very shorthanded, especially in skilled positions such as fork lift drivers,” said Riley.
Kitamura said last week his firm is 30 people short while Riley said he needs at least 15 more employees.
For Riley it means shutting down onion input for a day and shifting workers to help fill onion bins.
Kitamura said last week he is considering a similar shift.
“I can’t run enough stations to receive all . . .