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Daily News Blog

09
Sep

Take Action: Push Back on Rules that Would Weaken Farmworker Protections

(Beyond Pesticides, September 9, 2019) New rules proposed by the Department of Labor (DOL) will weaken protections for both foreign and domestic farmworkers who grow and harvest the nation’s food. The changes would affect the H-2A guestworker program, which permits U.S. farms to temporarily hire foreign workers. Despite rapid increases in foreign agricultural workers over the past several years, the new rules would expand the program and make it easier for agrichemical companies to exploit foreign labor, driving down working conditions and pay for all farmworkers.

Tell Congress to stop DOL from weakening farmworker protections.

DOL’s proposed rules would eliminate the obligation for growers to provide priority to U.S. farmworkers during the first half of a work contract, and extend the ability for growers to bring in foreign labor throughout the growing season. Growers would also be able to change job terms and work locations in the middle of a growing season. This would increase job insecurity for U.S. farmworkers, who are already facing tough economic conditions.

As described by Farmworker Justice, “The Trump Administration seeks to guarantee agribusiness unlimited access to a captive workforce that is deprived of economic bargaining power and the right to vote. The proposal epitomizes the Trump Administration’s hostility to immigrants. At the same time that the Administration seeks to transform the farm labor force of 2.4 million people into a workforce of 21st-century indentured servants, it is demonizing hard-working immigrants and ratcheting up cruel, heartless and counterproductive arrests and deportations, targeting many of our nation’s current experienced and valued farmworkers.”

Farmworkers deserve respect. DOL must drop this anti-worker proposal.

The rules as currently written would eliminate the already meager benefits guest workers receive when working in the U.S.

Changes would affect:

  • The way foreign workers are reimbursed for travel, shifting more of the burden onto their shoulders.
  • How wages are calculated, undermining the way the minimum wages are determined in a region by replacing a simple survey with complex calculations.
  • The way housing is provided, permitting employers to “self-inspect” housing, despite widespread reports of substandard living conditions for guest workers.

Tell Congress it’s time to stop denying fairness and justice to farmworkers and their families!

The average life expectancy for a farmworker is 49 years, compared to 78 for the general population. This is similar to the life expectancy of individuals living in the 1850s. With this information, it’s clear that farmworkers are giving years of their lives to put food on the tables of countless Americans.

Letter to Congress       

New rules proposed by the Department of Labor (DOL) would weaken protections for both foreign and domestic farmworkers who grow and harvest the nation’s food. Despite rapid increases in foreign agricultural workers over the past several years, the rules proposed by DOL would expand the guestworker program and make it easier for agrichemical companies to exploit foreign labor, therefore driving down working conditions and pay for all farmworkers.

DOL’s proposed rules would eliminate the obligation for growers to provide priority to U.S. farmworkers during the first half of a work contract, and extend the ability for growers to bring in foreign labor throughout the growing season. Growers would also be able to change job terms and work location in the middle of a growing season. This would increase job insecurity for U.S. farmworkers, who are already facing tough economic conditions. The changes would also affect the way foreign workers are reimbursed for travel, shifting more of the burden onto their shoulders. Determining “prevailing wage” would be changed from a simple survey to a complex calculation. And employers would be permitted to “self-inspect” housing, despite widespread reports of substandard living conditions.

The average life expectancy for a farmworker is 49 years, compared to 78 for the general population. This is similar to the life expectancy of individuals living in the 1850s. It is clear that farmworkers are giving years of their lives to put food on the tables of countless Americans.

In the face of administrative attempts to weaken farmworker protections, please put pressure on the Department of Labor to rescind these anti-worker rules. It’s time we improve the lives of farmworkers, rather than continuing to subject them to low pay and toxic work environment

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  • Archives

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