Latest News

Below are our latest news on important news and events relating to policy changes and issues affecting farmworkers and their families.

April 02, 2016

Many farmworkers in the United States are paid the minimum wage and therefore will benefit from the minimum wage increases that California and New York plan to adopt. Farmworker Justice applauds California’s and New York State’s actions and all of the workers and advocates who fought hard for the increases. However, we are somewhat disappointed with the shortcomings in the New York legislation and even in California there is more policy change needed.

Farmworker Justice is pleased that the California legislation will boost wages for workers statewide from the current $10.00 an hour to $10.50 in January and gradually up to $15.00 by 2022 and will be adjusted annually for inflation after that. While some farmworkers earn more than the minimum wage, the increase will affect tens of thousands of California farmworkers.

California legislators should now pass the bill extending overtime pay to agricultural workers, who deserve equality with other workers.

While workers in New York will also receive a sorely needed minimum wage increase above the current $9.00 per hour, Governor Cuomo compromised on the minimum wage for upstate New York, where the minimum wage will increase by $0.70 a year going up to only $12.50 by 2021. There are many farms, as well as urban areas, in upstate New York. New York City’s minimum wage will increase to $15 by the end of 2018. New York City’s suburbs will be given a few more years to reach the $15 minimum.

According to media reports, the New York budget deal also “includes $30 million set aside to help farmers pay the higher wage to workers.” That money could be better spent improving farmworkers’ conditions and enforcement of their rights.

The NY Farm Bureau expressed strong opposition to the bill, even after the subsidy was announced. Growers’ claims of the effects of wage increases on food production are overblown. Agricultural labor economist and professor at UC-Davis Philip Martin, predicts that if farmworker wages go up by 47%, household grocery bills would go up just $21.15 a year, or $1.76 a month. Moreover, California is by far the most successful agricultural state and has a higher minimum wage, collective bargaining rights for farmworkers and other labor protections.

New York farmworker advocates and allies have come close to passing legislation to grant farmworkers rest breaks, collective bargaining rights and other protections that workers in other sectors have. The state legislature should pass the farmworker bill of rights.

The NY compromise is disappointing due to its limitations, but it is a significant increase, that will help many farmworkers in the state’s substantial dairy industry, apple harvests and other produce farms. NY’s current minimum wage of $9 and California’s current minimum wage of $10 already are substantially higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour and that of other states with major agricultural sectors.

We at Farmworker Justice hope that the worker organizing that led California and New York to increase their minimum wages will help pave the way for a federal minimum wage increase as well as improvements in other states.
 

March 27, 2016

Farmworker Justice is celebrating National Farmworker Awareness Week from March 24 to March 31st.

Follow our blog as we highlight issues farmworkers face. We will be featuring guest bloggers and videos on 8 different themes. 

Farmworkers feed the world- 85% of our fruits and vegetables are handpicked. There are an estimated 2-3 million men, women, and children work in the fields in the United States. Farms are in every state, including yours, yet farmworkers remain largely invisible and continue to live and work in dangerous conditions. 

March 17, 2016

Farmworker Justice condemns the House vote to allow House Speaker Paul Ryan to appear as amicus curiae on behalf of the House of Representatives in the Supreme Court case U.S. v. Texas. This case, which will decide the legality the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents program (DAPA) and the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (expanded DACA), is scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court on April 18th. Speaker Ryan’s brief will oppose the DAPA and expanded DACA programs. The resolution, which would allow Speaker Ryan to represent the entire House of Representatives and use the House Office of General Counsel to file the brief, is inappropriate when so many Members of Congress (186) oppose the position of the Speaker. This move is another in a series of extraordinary, divisive attacks on President Obama and on immigrants.

The President’s actions are a prudent and proper exercise of his authority to enforce immigration laws. Both Republican and Democratic Presidents have used their authority to grant temporary immigration relief to groups of individuals in the country without status. As part of the President’s existing authority to enforce the law, he can and must set priorities, target resources, and shape how laws are to be implemented. Within that responsibility, the President has discretionary authority to execute the laws in a manner that most effectively utilizes limited resources, including through the use of prosecutorial discretion. The deferred action programs will better enable the Department of Homeland Security to target their resources and will result in an even more secure border than we have today.

Farmworker Justice President Bruce Goldstein made the following statement:

“Farmworker Justice continues to defend President Obama’s administrative actions and prepare for implementation of DAPA and DACA in farmworker communities. Roughly 700,000 farmworkers and their spouses could be eligible to come forward to apply for temporary protection from deportation and work authorization under the deferred action opportunities. The programs are well within the President’s authority and are a limited but important step toward addressing our broken immigration system. By eliminating the constant fear of deportation, farmworkers and other aspiring Americans will be able to contribute more fully to their communities and will be empowered in their workplaces.” Farmworker Justice signed on to the amicus brief submitted by 326 immigrants’ rights, civil rights, labor and social service organizations in support of the US government’s position that DAPA and expanded DACA should be allowed to be implemented. Farmworker Justice will continue to work with groups throughout the country to support and plan implementation of the DAPA/DACA programs and to win legislation that creates a path to citizenship for undocumented farmworker families and other aspiring Americans.