Home

Farmworker Justice is a nonprofit organization that seeks to empower migrant and seasonal farmworkers to improve their living and working conditions, immigration status, health, occupational safety, and access to justice.

Learn More

Get Involved

Your support is critical to improve the lives and working conditions of farmworkers.

Support Us

Get Updates

Help us continue the fight for worker rights!

Sign Up

Latest News

December 29, 2017

We thank our supporters and our collaborators for helping us carry out our vital work during 2017.  Best wishes for a happy New Year. But it is obvious that there are tremendous challenges ahead.  Your tax-deductible donation makes possible our highly-valued advocacy, education and litigation.  Farmworkers and their organizations are counting on all of us for 2018: 

  • Advocacy for immigrants, to win status for the undocumented and stop proposals for abusive guestworker programs.   
  • Labor rights enforcement to remedy and prevent wage theft, abusive farm labor contracting and labor trafficking. 
  • Support to labor union organizers.
  • Stop Scott Pruitt from rescinding and weakening EPA’s modest protections against toxic pesticides. 
  • Training community health promotion workers on health care access, cancer and heat stroke prevention, and pesticide poisoning.
  • Supporting farmworkers women’s campaigns to prevent sexual harassment in the fields and domestic violence.
  • Educating the public about farmworkers through traditional and social media. 
  • Litigating against federal agencies and agribusinesses that violate the law.
  • Engaging with businesses in the food and agriculture system for greater corporate responsibility toward farmworkers.
  • Enabling farmworkers to speak for themselves to policymakers.                

As 2017 ends and we plan for 2018, your tax-deductible contribution to Farmworker Justice is vital.

Thank you.

Bruce Goldstein, President, Farmworker Justice                                                                                                                    

December 13, 2017

We are pleased to present our new brochure highlighting the work and impact of our uniquely valuable organization, Farmworker Justice.  Farmworker organizations and farmworkers in communities throughout the country count on Farmworker Justice for its policy analysis, training, advocacy, litigation, public education and support for organizing on immigration, labor rights, occupational safety, health, access to justice and corporate social responsibility.

And Farmworker Justice counts on all of us who benefit from the food farmworkers produce to provide the support needed to carry out its mission.

Please make your most generous tax-deductible donation possible to Farmworker Justice by sending your contribution to our office at the address below or by credit card payment by clicking on the donate now button at the left.

Thank you!

 

November 27, 2017

LATINO LEADERS OPPOSE HOUSE-PASSED “SAVE LOCAL BUSINESS ACT” AND CALL ON SENATE TO REJECT BILL

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, a coalition of 45 of the nation’s preeminent Latino advocacy organizations, called on U.S. Senators to oppose the so-called “Save Local Business Act” (bill number HR 3441), which the U.S. House of Representatives passed earlier this month and has been sent to the Senate for consideration. The legislation would undermine the effective enforcement of labor protections in joint-employer arrangements where a large company contracts with a smaller vendor, potentially impacting millions of low-wage Latino workers.

 

As explained in NHLA’s letter to Senators, HR 3441 would change the definitions of employment relationships under the Fair Labor Standards Act and the National Labor Relations Act, making it virtually impossible for a court or federal enforcement agency to hold that two businesses are both the employer – or “joint employers” -- of a group of workers even when the two businesses share responsibilities for their hiring and employment.

 

“HR 3441 would undermine basic labor protections for millions of workers.  It also would harm the competitiveness of law-abiding businesses that do not take advantage of the evasions of labor protections that this bill would permit.  The bill would be especially harmful to farmworkers and other low-wage workers in industries where labor subcontracting is prevalent,” said Bruce Goldstein, Co-Chair of the NHLA Economic Empowerment and Labor Committee and President of Farmworker Justice.

 

“HR 3441 creates a massive legal loophole for companies to evade their obligations to abide by laws that protect workers’ rights to, among other things, collective bargaining, a safe workplace, and fair compensation. Workers struggling to make ends meet and provide for their families should not have to face worse wages and working conditions in order to pad the profits of large corporations. Senators should reject this anti-worker legislation,” said Hector Sanchez Barba, Chair of NHLA and Executive Director of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement.  

Featured Blog

December 26, 2017

Farmworker Justice Update: 12/22/17

 

Christmas Tree Cutters Continue Battle to Improve Working Conditions  

 

        As many celebrate the season by purchasing and decorating a Christmas tree, it is important to think about the working conditions of those who plant and harvest these trees. A recent lawsuit in North Carolina, covered by the Guardian, highlights some of the abuses these workers endure. Employees at Hart-T-Tree farm in North Carolina had their wages stolen, were exposed to hazardous chemicals and were provided unsafe transportation, leading to severe injuries. The workers were forced to continue working as the farm owner spread toxic chemicals, leading to many of the workers having symptoms of pesticide poisoning such as headaches, dizziness and vomiting. The workers were also forced to work twelve hour shifts in the sweltering heat, without being given adequate water or rest breaks. The farmworkers decided to organize with the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) and eventually won a $350,000 wage theft settlement. However, in response to this and other victories for basic labor rights, Republican legislators in the state recently passed a law that makes it illegal for unions to automatically deduct union dues from workers’ paychecks, with the objective of weakening union participation. FLOC and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), along with a coalition of civil rights groups, have filed a federal lawsuit challenging this North Carolina law.

 

Truthout Article Criticizes Rep. Goodlatte’s H-2C Proposal

 

         A recent Truthout article details how Rep. Goodlatte’s proposed Agricultural Guestworker Act (H.R. 4092) would strip migrant workers of the few rights they have and also undercut U.S. workers. The article highlights some of the most concerning provisions of the proposed H-2C program and notes that it would produce conditions similar to indentured servitude. It also discusses the importance of workers being able to participate in a union in order to protect their rights and recounts recent farmworker unionization efforts in North Carolina, Ohio, Washington and Kentucky.

 

Congress Passes New Budget Resolution without Providing DACA Solution  

 

         Immigrant rights advocates, including many DREAMers themselves, engaged in intensive mobilization during the month of December to seek a Congressional solution for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients before the end of the year. Advocates were calling for Congress to include a DACA solution in its next budget resolution, as its previous budget resolution was set to expire today (December 22).  Unfortunately, the continuing resolution that was passed yesterday, which is set to expire on January 19, 2018, did not include relief for DREAMers. Although some Democrats cast a no vote on the bill because it did not provide a DACA solution, along with several other issues, enough moderate Democrats joined Republicans to get the bill passed. Farmworker Justice is deeply disappointed in this failure of Congress to provide protections for DREAMers. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has stated that Congress may consider DACA legislation, as well as other immigration legislation, in January 2018 if members are able to reach an agreement. Farmworker Justice will continue to support the need for immigration relief for DREAMers as well as for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients. We will also be closely watching for harmful immigration changes, including a possible expansion of the H-2A visa program to year-round industries, as was included in the House’s proposed FY 2018 DHS appropriations bill. We will continue to monitor Congressional developments in this regard.

 

DHS Releases FY 2017 Immigration Enforcement Statistics 

 

     Earlier this month, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced its FY 2017 statistics on immigration enforcement actions by both Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). CBP reported a total of 310,531 apprehensions nationwide, 303,916 of which were along the Southwest border. ICE reported 143,470 administrative arrests and 226,119 removals. Through the start of the Trump Administration on January 20, 2017 through the end of the fiscal year (on September 30, 2017) ICE made 110,568 arrests compared to 77,806 during the same period in FY2016 - an increase of approximately 40 percent.

 

U.K. Faces Agricultural Labor Challenges as a Result of “Brexit”

 

      As in the U.S., the agricultural sector in the U.K. is heavily dependent on immigrant labor. As reported by the New York Times, the U.K.’s recent decision to leave the European Union has led to concerns, expressed primarily by agricultural employers, that there will not be sufficient labor to grow their crops.  During the year following the Brexit vote, net migration to the UK fell by approximately a third, the largest annual drop in migration since the country began keeping records in 1964. Among the migrants decreasing their travel to the UK are manual laborers from countries such as Romania and Bulgaria. Though the U.K.’s political and economic context is different from the U.S. in many ways, this situation highlights the tensions between anti-immigrant sentiment and practical labor needs that are common to both countries.   

 

Update on Farmworker Health and Safety

 

          EPA May Weaken Key Provisions of Recently Updated Worker Protection Rules

 

        The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced that it may try to rewrite key provisions of the Worker Protection Standard (WPS) and Certified Pesticide Applicator (CPA) rule, two important regulations aimed at ensuring that farmworkers receive adequate training and protection from pesticide exposure. This announcement is very concerning given that there was already a detailed rule-making process for both rules which involved multiple stakeholders, including Farmworker Justice, and led to important revisions which should already be in effect. Now the EPA has backtracked, bowing to pressure from agribusiness groups, and will soon be opening up the rules for potential changes to key provisions including a minimum age for pesticide handlers, the right of workers to access information about pesticides they are exposed to, and protection from exposures to workers and bystanders during applications. Apart from the confusion and delays in the implementation of the rules caused by recent EPA actions, this decision by EPA could also have significant effects on funding for the agency.  Sen. Tom Udall has placed a hold on the reauthorization of the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act (PRIA) as a response to the EPA’s unorthodox actions concerning these two rules, as well as the reversal of its decision to ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos earlier this year. Senator Udall has also expressed concern regarding the EPA’s mischaracterization of the discussion of these provisions at a recent Pesticide Program Dialogue Committee (PPDC) meeting. Farmworker Justice is a member of the PPDC and is similarly concerned that the EPA’s summary of the meeting does not accurately reflect what was discussed, as well as the fact that the transcript of the meeting still has not been made public.

 

Tax Bill Eliminates Individual Mandate, Key Funding for Health Programs Still Pending

 

        The tax bill passed by Congress this week eliminates the individual mandate penalty in 2019 and also prohibits taxpayers from claiming the child tax credit if they do not have a Social Security number.  According to analysis by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), repeal of the individual mandate will result in 13 million more uninsured individuals by 2027Additionally, Congress has yet to fully reauthorize CHIP (the recent budget CR extends funding only until March 2018) and has not reauthorized Community Health Center funding, which both expired on September 30, 2017. According to a new issue brief by the Georgetown Center for Children and Families, 25 states are set to run out of these funds by the end of January 2018. Community health centers, in the meantime, are starting to plan for possible staff reductions and clinic closures. Both CHIP and community health centers are critical to farmworkers' access to health care. Their funding must be renewed as soon as possible to ensure the programs' long-term stability. 

 

Open Enrollment Period Continues in Some States

 

        In most states, open enrollment for 2018 ended on December 15, but there are a handful of states where open enrollment continues. These states include Florida, Georgia, and Texas, impacted by hurricanes, and California and New York, which operate their own marketplaces. More information about these deadlines can be found here. Enrollment has been strong. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), 8.8 million consumers had enrolled in health insurance through healthcare.gov as of December 15. Despite the shorter open enrollment period, that represents close to the total number enrolled last year. Open enrollment may be over for many farmworkers, but some workers and their families may still qualify to enroll through a Special Enrollment Period. More information about Special Enrollment Periods can be found on healthcare.gov

 

Happy New Year 2018!

 

2017 has been a challenging year for farmworkers and farmworker advocates on all fronts, including immigration, labor, occupational health and safety and access to health. Farmworker Justice remains committed to improving farmworkers’ living and working conditions with the help of all of our invaluable allies in the year to come. Please see our new brochure for more information on the work and impact of our organization. We hope you enjoy this holiday season with family and friends and wish you a happy and peaceful 2018.

 

December 01, 2017

Farmworker Justice Immigration Update - 12/01/17 

DACA and TPS Recipients Continue to Suffer from Congressional Failure to Act

December will be a key time for activism to ensure that Congress protects the approximately 1 million immigrants who are currently in danger of losing their authorized status as a result of the Administration’s recent decisions on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) programs.  Current government funding is set to expire on December 8, and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have expressed that they will not agree to a new funding bill if it does not include a solution for Dreamers. If a solution is not reached before the deadline, Congress’ inaction could lead to a government shutdown.

DACA - According to the Center for American Progress, approximately 122 individuals a day will lose their DACA status before the program’s official expiration date of March 5, 2018, after which the number of DACA recipients losing status daily will increase even more. Once a legislative solution is reached, it will still take months from the date a bill is signed into law to implement any new legislation and confer new status. Immediate action is needed to ensure that Dreamers are protected. A coalition of immigration and labor groups is organizing a National Day of Action in support of Dreamers on December 6, including a march on the Capitol and an online march, or “iMarch,” with events in all 50 states. This will be followed by various other advocacy and action opportunities throughout the month of December.

TPS - On November 20, Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke announced the Administration’s decision to terminate TPS for more than 50,000 Haitians, with a delayed effective date of July 22, 2019 in order to “allow for an orderly transition.” The Haiti announcement followed a statement just two weeks earlier terminating the TPS program for Nicaragua (effective January 5, 2019) and extending the TPS designation for Honduras until July 5, 2018, with no final decision made on whether TPS for Honduras will also be terminated. El Salvador has the largest number of TPS recipients (approximately 200,000) and the Administration must make a decision on this designation by January 8, 2018. The Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) has various documents available online to help current TPS holders understand the implications of these recent decisions.

Legal Victory for Farmworkers in California

In a victory for farmworkers’ labor rights, on November 27 California’s Supreme Court upheld the state’s Mandatory Mediation Law. The law permits state mediators to establish binding contracts for agricultural employers when the parties are unable to reach an agreement due to the employer's violation of the law's requirement to bargain in good faith. The ruling resulted from a lawsuit brought by the United Farm Workers (UFW) against Gerawan Farming Inc., which currently owes workers more than $10 million in back wages. Congratulations to the United Farm Workers for this long fought victory!

Op-Ed Highlights Workers’ Concerns over Agricultural Guestworker Act

A recent op-ed noted many of the troubling features of Rep. Goodlatte’s proposed “Agricultural Guestworker Act,” such as its negative impact on wages and working conditions, extended periods of family separation and potential for further vulnerability for both foreign and domestic workers. The op-ed highlights concerns about the bill’s potential impact on dairy workers, who already face challenges such as wage theft and poor housing conditions. Furthermore, the op-ed notes the bill’s failure to address the need to provide a path to citizenship for the current, experienced undocumented workers doing this difficult but essential work. In contrast, the Agricultural Worker Program Act, introduced in the Senate earlier this year, offers workers a path to legal status, and with it, the possibility of family unification and the freedom to choose their own place of work. As expressed by the authors of the op-ed: “This holiday season, as we celebrate with food likely picked by guestworkers around the country, it’s time we pass the Agricultural Worker Program Act to bring farmworkers out of the shadows and into the communities their hard work supports.”

Update on Farmworker Health and Safety

Farmworker Women Combatting Sexual Harassment

A recent New York Times op-ed highlights some of the many industries where women suffer from sexual harassment but the perpetrators are not public figures, such as farm work. The article details efforts by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW)’s Fair Food Program to incorporate sexual harassment rules and penalties into its labor agreements. This effort has resulted in multiple supervisors being disciplined and in some cases, fired, for their behavior. The Alianza Nacional de Campesinas also penned an open letter to women in Hollywood, in which they share their own experiences fighting harassment and express their support for the women who have denounced harassment. For farmworkers, as well as women in other industries, labor organizing can be a powerful tool for combating sexual harassment, because, as the NY Times op-ed notes, “sexual harassment is more about power than sex; any industry with extreme power differentials will be afflicted by it.” We echo the author’s call for the women who are newly speaking out in the limelight to rally alongside those who have been fighting sexual harassment in the shadows.

November 13, 2017

Farmworker Justice Update: 11/09/17

H-2C Guestworker Proposal Approved by House Judiciary Committee  

            As noted in our previous updates, on October 25 the House Judiciary Committee passed the “Agricultural Guestworker Act” sponsored by Chairman Goodlatte. In order to become law, the bill must also be voted on and approved by the full House and Senate. As we stated in our blog about the markup, it is unclear if and when the bill will move forward in the House, but Farmworker Justice will continue to monitor the legislation. Mother Jones published an article soon after the bill’s passage in the Judiciary Committee outlining some of the ways in which the new guestworker program would prove harmful to all workers, including concerns voiced by Farmworker Justice.

House Passes Anti-Joint Employer Bill Which May Make it Harder to Hold Agricultural Employers Accountable

           On November 7, the anti-joint employer “Save Local Business Act,” HR 3441, passed the House by a vote of 242-181. The bill would revise the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to essentially prevent joint employer liability. Although the bill does not amend the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (AWPA), which is the main statute protecting farmworkers, much of the case law on joint employer liability under AWPA in the farmworker setting relies on the FLSA’s broad definition of the word “employ.” If this definition is narrowed, courts and government agencies could apply the restrictive concept of joint employment in HR 3441 to AWPA as well. This could undermine farmworkers’ ability to ensure that growers and labor contractors are jointly liable for labor violations. Joint employer liability has proven essential for farmworkers to obtain relief because labor contractors often do not have sufficient assets to pay court judgments. During the debate on the bill, Rep. Espaillat of New York emphasized the bill’s potentially harmful impact on farmworkers and entered into the record Farmworker Justice’s statement on the bill. The next step for the bill is for it to move to the Senate.  Farmworker Justice will continue to monitor the bill, along with many other labor rights organizations, such as the National Employment Law Project (NELP), which recently published a New York Times op-ed against the bill.

DHS Terminates TPS Designation for Nicaragua, Undecided on Honduras  

            On November 6, acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Elaine Duke announced the Administration’s decision to terminate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Nicaragua, with an effective termination date of January 5, 2019. In the announcement, the acting Secretary also noted that additional information is needed for a decision on TPS for Honduras and temporarily extended TPS for Hondurans until July 5, 2018. Nicaraguans and Hondurans with TPS will be required to reapply for employment authorization documents in order to continue to work in the U.S. until these respective deadlines. According to the Washington Post, there are currently about 2,500 Nicaraguans and more than 50,000 Hondurans with TPS. The country with the biggest number of TPS recipients is El Salvador, with approximately 200,000 people who might lose their status in early 2018. DHS also has just a few weeks to announce its plans for more than 50,000 Haitian TPS holders (DHS had announced a six-month extension for Haitian TPS earlier this year).

                Faith, labor and immigration rights groups have denounced the Administration’s recent decision and are calling for action in defense of the TPS program, including contacting representatives in Congress. For a detailed breakdown of TPS holders in each state, please see this Fact Sheet by the Center for American Progress (CAP). The final decision on TPS designation for Honduras, as well as for other remaining countries such as El Salvador and Haiti, is likely to be made by Kirstjen Nielsen, who has been nominated to the post of DHS Secretary. Nielsen testified before the Senate Homeland Security Committee on November 8.  If approved by the Committee, her confirmation must then be voted on by the full Senate.

Uncertainty over DACA Continues as End of the Year Nears  

            Last week, President Trump held a closed-door meeting with various GOP senators regarding immigration. It was reported that during the meeting, those present decided against including a solution for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients in an end of the year spending deal. In spite of these reports, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer stated earlier this week that he is “very optimistic” that DACA legislation will pass before the end of the year with bi-partisan support. He also predicted that President Trump would not veto a spending bill with a DACA solution. Today in Congress, 16 House Republicans will hold a press conference in support of Dreamers. Congressional Democrats are also holding a press conference and have held a number of events in support of Dreamers. DACA advocates are continuing their efforts to showcase the contributions of Dreamers in their communities and urge Congress to act quickly towards a solution. As part of those efforts, United We Dream is supporting a “Walkout for the Dream Act” today. There will also be a national call-in day in support of DACA on November 14.

Amid National Conversation about Sexual Harassment, Farmworker Voice Essential

            National Public Radio (NPR) recently interviewed Rosalinda Guillen, a farmworker rights activist and director of Community to Community. As Rosalinda explained in the interview, farmworker women face harassment, sexual assault and rape, which often goes unreported.  Workers are afraid that if they speak up they will be retaliated against, or that their families, who often work for the same employer, will be retaliated against as well. The lack of privacy in farmworker housing often exacerbates farmworker women’s vulnerability to harassment.

Update on Farmworker Health and Safety

CHIP and Health Center Funding Extended, but With Harmful Offsets

On Nov. 3, the House of Representatives passed HR 3922, the “Championing Healthy Kids Act,” which extends funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for five years and for community health centers for two years. Both CHIP and community health center funding expired on September 30. The bill, while ensuring funding for these two important programs, also cuts $6.35 billion from the ACA’s Prevention and Public Health Fund and includes other harmful offsets that would reduce health insurance coverage.  The Senate Finance Committee passed a bipartisan bill, S. 1827, the “Keeping Kids’ Insurance Dependable and Secure” (KIDS) Act, on October 4. While it also extends CHIP funding for five years, the Senate bill does not include community health center funding or any offset provisions to pay for the program. It seems unlikely the Senate will vote on the KIDS Act as a standalone bill. The Kaiser Foundation has prepared a helpful summary and comparison of both bills. Some states will begin to run out of CHIP funds as early as January 2018. Without an extension of CHIP and community health center funding, farmworker families will have even less access to health insurance and health care.

Open Enrollment Has Begun!

Open enrollment for 2018 health insurance coverage has officially begun! Enrollment opened November 1 and, in most states, ends December 15 (a few states, like California and New York, extended open enrollment through January 2018). According to the Hill, a record number of people signed up for coverage in the first few days. However, the shortened open enrollment period and the cuts in navigator funding present numerous challenges, especially in farmworker communities. It’s important to remind eligible workers and their families that open enrollment has begun and that financial assistance to lower the cost of health insurance is available. Farmworker Justice has resources for workers and advocates available on our website. You can also learn more about open enrollment and available in-person assistance in your community at healthcare.gov or cuidadodesalud.gov.

Immigration

Quick access to our dual-language resources about immigration enforcement specifically for farmworkers. Resources include preparedness checklists, FAQs about raids, and Know Your Rights Toolkits.

Immigration is a critically important issue for farmworkers. Learn about current legislation proposals impacting farmworkers.

Learn about the history of guestworker programs, H-2A program for temporary agricultural work, and the H-2B visa program.