Contact workers haul Pinot noir grapes from Stoller Family Estate in Dayton on Oct. 18.

Lourdes Cortes has worked in agriculture most of her life, save a two-year stint cleaning houses. The 42-year-old thought 10-12 hour days and safety risks were par for the course in agricultural work.

Then she met Zach Ramirez.

Ramirez owns Willamette Farm Labor Contracting. In the larger contracting landscape, he is considered one of the good guys. Which is to say, he takes care of his employees, he says.

Cortes agrees.

“I would never work for another contractor,” she said. “I see how they treat their employees.”

Farm labor contractors are third-party companies or individuals who solicit and recruit employees on behalf of farms. Contractors must have a license from the Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) and the Department of Labor to operate.

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