USDA & Federal Contract Labor Law Compliance

Following the United States Department of Agriculture’s announcement that it would withdraw its final rule requiring companies working with the USDA to certify that its subcontractors are in compliance with labor laws, Bruce Goldstein, President of Farmworker Justice, made the following statement:

“We’re disappointed that the USDA has chosen not to pursue this important final rule. We urge them to move forward with the proposed rule. A rule requiring beneficiaries of federal contracts at USDA to certify labor law compliance should be a no-brainer.

Requiring labor law compliance would have been a victory for the workers who harvest our food, consumers of government-subsidized food sales and purchases, and law-abiding employers. Consumers of USDA products, as well as American consumers at large, want to know that the food industry is taking responsibility for complying with basic labor protections for farmworkers. For the men and women working to put food on America’s tables, there are still far too many cases of rampant employer abuse of existing labor laws.

Workers frequently face exposure to toxic pesticides; sexual harassment and assault; dangerous housing; lack of access to toilets, drinking water and hand washing facilities; and wage theft. It’s unfortunate that the USDA has put off a chance to curb these abuses. Together, the USDA and the Department of Labor should look for another opportunity to help our nation’s victimized agricultural workers.”

FJ Statement on USDA & Federal Contract Labor Law Compliance