Farmworkers in the U.S.

Culture: National Farmworker Awareness Week 2017

From 2000 to 2014, Latinos accounted for over half of all population growth in the US. Although birth and immigration rates among Latinos have slowed since the Great Recession, as of 2014 Latinos made up 17% of the general US population, making Latinos the largest ethnic minority group. By 2060, Latinos are projected to make up over a quarter of all Americans.

Second-generation Latinos, as discussed in a recent piece in the Pacific Standard, tend to engage in “selective acculturation,” in which “fluent bilingualism and the reinforcement of ethnic identity” define an individual’s place in US culture as opposed to gradual erasure of that individual’s ethnic identity.

The US should focus on providing bi-cultural Americans with the best start in life that the government can offer. Migrant and Seasonal Head Start (MSHS) represents the best chance many children of migrant and seasonal farmworkers have to receive that crucial, quality start. Farmworker Justice is proud of our collaborations with the MSHS programs and particularly the work of the East Coast Migrant Head Start Project.

Research shows that high-quality early childhood education not only improves a student’s individual academic and economic prospects, but provides society-wide social and economic benefits as well; perhaps most compellingly, research indicates that these societal benefits are so great that early childhood education programs end up paying for themselves.

MSHS provides early childhood education on a schedule that supports the work patterns of migrant and seasonal farmworkers. It provides extended care hours and meals to students, along with assistance accessing healthcare and social services. Amidst drastic domestic budget cuts, we must continue to fight for those that support health and success of farmworker children, Learn more about the East Coast Migrant Head Start Project by following their facebook page here.

UN Special Rapporteur in Trafficking in Persons Concerned about H-2A Guestworker Program

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has issued a statement, released on December 19, following a visit to the United States by Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, UN Special Rapporteur in Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children.

The Special Rapporteur, in discussing trafficking, raised concerns about the vulnerability of agricultural guestworkers due to their non-immigrant status under the H-2A temporary foreign agricultural worker program and ongoing abuses under the program.

It is helpful at this moment to have objective observers investigate and comment on the H-2A temporary foreign agricultural guestworker program. Agricultural employers’ use of the H-2A visa program has grown rapidly and likely will continue to expand. Grower associations are campaigning to lower H-2A wage rates and reduce government oversight.

The UN Special Rapporteur said:
“The legal framework governing temporary visas for migrant workers, especially H-2A visa for temporary or seasonal agricultural work and H-2B visa for temporary or seasonal non-agricultural work visas, is of particular concern as it exposes applicants to the risk of exploitation, including human trafficking.”
In practice, she found that for many guestworkers reporting human rights violations or quitting their jobs to return home “is impossible because of the debts they incur from recruitment agencies’ fees.”

She called on the United States to improve the way the program operates and to do more to stop abuses.
Her comments echo our report, “No Way to Treat a Guest: Why the H-2A Agricultural Visa Program Fails U.S. and Foreign Workers,” available on our website.

The UN’s statement will be useful as we and allies defend farmworkers in the policy battle that will occur in the next Administration and Congress and seek to build a just immigration system that respects working people.

Hunger amidst plenty: Food assistance in farmworker communities

The people who spend their days picking fruits and vegetables are struggling to find food for their own families. Numerous studies across the United States have thoroughly documented the staggering rates of both hunger and food insecurity that plague farmworker communities. For example, one study of Georgia farmworkers found that 63% of migrant and seasonal workers surveyed struggled to feed themselves and their families. Additionally, farmworkers often face countless barriers when trying to get food, including low wages, poor public transportation, and a lack of culturally-appropriate food, among others. Among farmworker families, the average income is between $17,500 and $20,000, which falls well below the 2016 federal poverty level of $24,300 for a family of four. Given these numerous barriers, what resources can farmworkers utilize to feed their families?

From federally-led programs such as the National School Breakfast Program to the local food pantry in your neighborhood, there are numerous government and charitable programs that help feed hungry Americans. Though participation varies region to region, the main programs that farmworkers typically access are the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP); the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program; and the National School Breakfast and Lunch Programs, in addition to local soup kitchens, food pantries, and other alternative food programs. When effectively implemented, federal nutrition programs have been effective in reducing food insecurity among some farmworker families. However, farmworkers often face a variety of barriers to accessing these food assistance programs, and the programs alone do not adequately address the alarming levels of food insecurity in farmworker communities. .

Immigration status poses a significant barrier for many farmworkers in accessing food assistance. For instance, SNAP identifies eligible categories of immigrants and generally requires that they have been in their qualified status for five years before receiving any cash transfers. Additionally, some farmworkers avoid enrolling in any federal nutrition programs because of the belief that participating in public assistance may compromise one’s immigration or residency status. Farmworkers also commonly live in rural communities, where resources such as food pantries and soup kitchens can be inaccessible for families without adequate transportation. Farmworkers who live in labor camps, motels, various forms of substandard housing or who are homeless also often lack the proper equipment for food preparation and storage. Other barriers include poor translation services, poor quality of food donations, and misinformation on eligibility and availability of resources. Thus, existing food assistance programs are not amenable to the unique needs and harsh living conditions of farmworkers.

So what can be done to solve this problem? A permanent solution requires that farmworkers receive fair wages to fully meet their families’ financial needs and that they have the opportunity to become immigrants and citizens with the same basic rights as other workers. In the short term, more emergency food programs must address the immediate hunger in farmworker communities by offering a larger, more frequent supply of fresh, healthy, and culturally-appropriate foods directly in farmworker communities. Sadly, one study in Northern California revealed that farmworkers, and especially those that are undocumented, already depend on emergency food as their main food source. Farmworkers can enroll in food assistance programs by visiting their local human services department or social service referral organizations. Simultaneously, service providers can also educate families about and enroll farmworkers into federal assistance programs like SNAP and WIC, to address the longer-term food insecurity. On a policy level, states can take action to expand their eligibility requirements for SNAP and other public assistance programs. For example, California provides state-funded food stamps to certain non-citizens who do not qualify for SNAP, a program known as the California Food Assistance Program.

Though drastically changing the current system of food assistance would greatly benefit farmworkers, these changes must consider factors such as language proficiency, cultural competency, and immigration status to be successful. Hunger doesn’t happen simply because a family doesn’t have enough to eat, but also because of a variety of factors unrelated to food; likewise, eliminating hunger does not require simply providing food, but also ensuring living wages and access to forms of federal assistance to eliminate poverty. A fundamental change in the current food assistance programs is vital for addressing hunger among farmworker communities, but we must continue to advocate for the overall livelihood of farmworkers to ensure the people that help us live a hunger-free and food secure life are also living a life that is free of hunger and food insecurity.


 

National Farmworker Awareness Week: Transforming the Produce Industry

Today's guest blog is written by Peter O'Driscoll, Executive Director of the Equitable Food Initiative.  The Equitable Food Initiative (EFI) brings together workers, growers and retailers in the effort to produce better fruits and vegetables. As produce farms comply with the EFI Standard—for improved working conditions, pesticide management, and food safety—the entire food system sees benefits, all the way from farm workers to consumers.

There's a reason we still celebrate Farmworker Awareness Week each year. Despite landmark events over the past six decades -- from the broadcast of Edward R. Murrow's "Harvest of Shame" in 1960 through the campaigns of Cesar Chavez's United Farmworkers in the 1970s, the supply chain agreements of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee in the 1980s, the organizing of tomato workers in Immokalee and the more recent success of Oregon farmworkers on documentation and minimum wage -- most consumers just don't pay enough attention to the challenges facing those who harvest our fruits and vegetables.

Across those same decades, the produce industry itself has too often taken workers for granted. Thanks to an abundant labor supply, workers were seen as interchangeable, rather than as skilled and valuable assets. But that perception may well be changing. Enhanced immigration enforcement has significantly tightened the agricultural labor market, raising concerns among growers who can't find the workers they need to harvest their crops.

Meanwhile, as US growers increasingly source from Mexico to provide year-round supply, labor unrest and press accounts of harsh working conditions south of the border have convinced the produce industry that there are major vulnerabilities in its sprawling global supply chains. Many insiders acknowledge that "social compliance" is now as urgent a priority as food safety, an issue that always grabs consumers' attention.

As an unusual collaboration among retail, grower, labor and consumer organizations, the Equitable Food Initiative sees a tremendous opportunity for transformation in the produce industry. We believe that well-trained and fairly compensated workers can be a huge part of the solution to the industry's food safety and labor challenges. Our work with Costco Wholesale, Whole Foods and eight of their produce suppliers is already demonstrating that engaged and motivated workers can verify ongoing compliance with our rigorous standards. This spring, our first certified strawberries will be on Costco shelves with the "Responsibly Grown. Farmworker Assured." ™ label. More product will be available as the season advances, and we hope other retailers will join in supporting their suppliers to achieve EFI certification.
 

But beyond the assurance of compliance, EFI's experience with growers so far shows that new forms of labor-management collaboration can also create other forms of value. As with any industry, experienced farmworkers know a great deal about the produce they harvest, and can use the problem-solving skills they learn through EFI to explore ways to improve the production process, reduce waste and retain labor in a tight market. As more suppliers get involved, there are also opportunities for sharing best practices: rather than dictating how things should be done, EFI aims to build on the inherent knowledge that workers and their supervisors already bring to their profession. As EFI evolves, we learn and grow through the insight of our stakeholders.

Among our early-adopters is NatureSweet Tomatoes, a San Antonio-based company with multiple facilities in Mexico and Arizona. NatureSweet is "dedicated to increasing the sustainability of the land and the lives of all those surrounding our product." But by investing in the capacity of its workforce, the company also sees a significant competitive opportunity, and talks about a produce industry "ripe for disruption." All the growers we talk to seek to tap the potential of their workforce and promote a change of culture in the industry. EFI is excited to be part of what we see as a positive transformation. And it all starts with an awareness that farmworkers bring tremendous skill and knowledge to their trade. This week should be about helping to spread that awareness.

National Farmworker Awareness Week: Separation of Families

"When we began our first interview, Demetrio seemed a little detached. He answered yes or no to most of our questions; however, when we began asking more about his family, we saw his eyes tell a different story. Demetrio told us that his wife was expecting his third child. The baby was due in two weeks so he wouldn’t be able to be there for his son’s birth and in fact wouldn’t be able to meet his son until November when his son would already be 5 months old. 


During our second interview, Demetrio showed us pictures of his newborn son who still doesn’t have a name. He seemed proud and sad at the same time. We asked about what he wondered and at first, he said he didn’t ask himself or wonder anything, but after we explained the prompt again and gave a few examples, he said he wondered everyday if the rest of his life would be like this, separated and away from his family. The room felt dense, almost like you could feel the weight that he carries. It’s not just that he has to miss big and important family moments like the birth of a child, but it’s knowing everyday his children are growing up, trying new things and learning about themselves and the people that they want to become, while he’s not there to see or influence it."

Excerpt from Student Action with Farmworkers’ (SAF) blog on the theme separation of families by Catherine Crowe, 2015 SAF Fellow.

When we talk about separation of families in the immigration context we often mean the harsh immigration enforcement machine that deports one parent and leave the rest of the family behind. Or the fact that millions of undocumented immigrants in the US are unable to return to their country of origin to visit their loved ones. This fear is a daily reality for the majority of farmworkers who are undocumented. But Demetrio’s story illustrates another type of family separation. Demetrio has an H-2A visa for temporary agricultural workers. Many H-2A workers spend up to 10 months in the US every year away from their families. Sheepherders on H-2A visas stay for 3 years before returning home for a short duration.

H-2A workers typically come to the United States without their families. Although technically H-2A workers may bring their spouse and/or minor children with them, in reality it doesn’t happen. H-2A workers live in employer-provided housing that is usually dormitory style and not appropriate for families, and it is unlikely that employers would allow workers to bring their families. Plus, for an H-2A worker to bring their spouse, he (it’s usually a he) would have to show that he can financially support her while they are in the US. Farmworkers wages aren’t high enough to meet this standard. Under the H-2A program, employers can and do discriminate based on a person’s age and gender and the result is that is a workforce composed almost exclusively of young men. (In the rare instances where there are crews of women, they are exclusively women as well.) As a result, even if a male and female couple wanted to work together on H-2A visas, it would be extremely challenging; and it is highly unlikely their children would be able to join them.

The H-2A program exploits economically desperate individuals. People should not have to choose between living with their family or feeding their family. In public discourse on policy proposals for the future flow for immigration reform, some people believe that many Mexican farmworkers just want to come here and work and then go home. But no one wants to be separated from his or her family. Proposals for harsh guestworker programs that treat workers as commodities should be rejected as inconsistent with America’s economic and democratic freedoms. Any needed future workers from abroad must be afforded the same legal rights as U.S. workers and should be given the opportunity to earn citizenship. Whether they chose to settle here or return to their country of origin at some point should be their choice. Immigration reform should be a stepping stone toward modernizing agricultural labor practices and treating farmworkers with the respect they deserve.

National Farmworker Awareness Week: Celebrating and Educating the Farmworker Child

The following is a guest blog by John Menditto, General Counsel and Director of Risk Management, East Coast Migrant Head Start Project.

For more than forty years, East Coast Migrant Head Start Project  has been celebrating and educating the farmworker child. What we have observed during these four decades of mission-driven work has remained remarkably consistent:

  • Farmworker parents deeply committed to the education of their young children;
  • Classroom teachers ready, willing, and able to prepare their young charges for success in the public school system;
  • School bus transportation staff with the skill and knowledge to safely navigate school buses down rural roads and into migrant labor camps to ensure children arrive at school on time;
  • Cooks able to prepare nutritious and delicious breakfasts and lunches for as many as 100 children each day; and
  • Collaborative partners who provide health, dental and nutritional services to help ensure that each child is able to do their best learning.

The consistency we have seen in our own program on the United States’ East Coast is a vision shared by Head Start agencies that serve farmworker families all across the nation. I have the privilege to work with many of these Head Start agencies through my Board service to the National Migrant & Seasonal Head Start Association and I can attest to the fact that the 30,000 farmworker children served through the Head Start program are receiving education and care of the highest quality.

But threats abound for farmworker families. Large agribusinesses and small family farmers have taken advantage of the agricultural temporary guestworker program (also known as the H-2A program) to displace farmworker parents working in the fields. Farmworker parents like Irma M. of Okeechobee, Florida, have shared with us that their employer now provides the best opportunities to harvest fresh fruits and vegetables to H-2A guestworkers. According to Irma, her employer has explained that he’s required by the H-2A guestworker program to keep his guestworkers busy, so her opportunities to work are limited to the months during the peak harvest season.

Other farmworker parents like William P. of Wauchula, Florida, have shared that they are unable to be involved in the Head Start program in the way they would like because they cannot afford to miss work for fear of appearing less dedicated than the temporary guestworkers who they work alongside. Temporary H-2A guestworkers leave their families behind when they come to the United States – they reside in the United States for one purpose: to work. This, of course, can be a boon to the agriculture industry, but it’s a bust for the farmworker parent who must choose between attending a Head Start parent engagement activity or his or her job working in the fields.

The other threat facing farmworker families is the threat of family separation. Farmworker parents came to the United States with the same hopes and dreams of all immigrants – but many of these farmworkers brought their hopes and dreams on the only path available to them: one that was not sanctioned by the United States government. As a result of our broken immigration system, thousands of farmworker parents entrust their United States citizen children to our care and head to their work in the fields, carrying with them the fear that this could be the day they were separated from their young children. Despite these looming threats, farmworker parents persevere. The farmworkers that I know tend to be my most generous and most gracious of friends. They are willing to take great risks and make great sacrifices so that their children will have opportunities in life that were never available to the farmworker. Lazaro S., a farmworker parent who migrates each year from Plant City, Florida to Faison, North Carolina, explained his motivation and the importance of education:

“It’s important for children to be able to learn, because they are just starting to grow. And we don’t want them to end up like us because we haven’t learned anything since we were very little. If children can start learning when they are little . . . that is the future of this country”

During National Farmworker Awareness Week, we celebrate farmworkers like Lazaro, Irma, and William, and we celebrate their young children: the future of this country.
 

National Farmworker Awareness Week: Women in the Fields

On this day of National Farmworker Awareness Week we celebrate women in farmworker communities by showcasing the work of one of our community partners. Lideres Campesinas, a community organization founded and run by women, is based in Oxnard, CA. Lideres organizes committees of women and girls in farmworker communities across the state of California, harnessing the power of women to educate and advocate within their communities for fair and safe workplaces, women’s health, and youth programs, among other priority issues.

For the past two years, Farmworker Justice has partnered with Lideres Campesinas to engage the members of three committees as promotores de salud (community health workers) dedicated to the health and safety of farmworkers exposed to hazards on the job. As promotores de salud, the women share information about pesticides, heat illness, and field sanitation with others in their community. They explain how farmworkers can take simple steps to prevent injuries and illnesses. They also become resources within their communities, disseminating information about the right to a safe workplace and where and how workers can ask questions or report violations of their rights. Many of these women have become fixtures at community-wide and governmental meetings representing the interests of farmworkers.

We, at Farmworker Justice, are inspired by the amount of time and energy the founders, board members, staff, and volunteer members devote to the organization and their communities.
 

National Farmworker Awareness Week: Farmworker Life

Carly Fox is a Worker Rights Advocate who organizes dairy workers in the Workplace Justice Program at the Worker Justice Center of NY. Carly wrote this guest blog for National Farmworker Awareness Week.


New York State’s dairy industry is booming as a result of the explosion of Greek yogurt with Chobani, the pioneer Greek yogurt company, focusing its investment in NY. For the past two decades, the profile of the average dairy worker has shifted towards an almost exclusive population of Mexican and Guatemalan milkers and herdsman.

Last year, I received a call from a dairy worker, Juan (a pseudonym), who asked for help getting his things out of his employer-provided housing. Juan had decided to quit the dairy and move out, but the owner was trying to prevent him from leaving. When Juan’s brother came to pick him up, the dairy owner reached into Juan’s brother’s car, took his keys out and put them in his pocket. When Juan’s brother got angry, the owner threatened to call immigration, a threat often used by employers to intimidate workers who may be undocumented. I came to learn that Juan had worked on this farm for a year. He had worked every single day with no day of rest. He worked four hours, then rested for four hours, around the clock. This grueling schedule, however, wasn’t what led him to quit. Juan decided to quit after the heat in the house stopped working for a third time during one of New York’s coldest winters. Juan had been trying to sleep curled up next to the oven, which he was using to heat the place. He couldn’t take it anymore, but the employer was pressuring him to stay by threatening to call immigration. To add insult to injury, Juan never received his last week’s paycheck from the employer.

Many of these farmworkers live in employer-owned housing which poses many challenges. Oftentimes, ten to twelve workers share one stove. There are no fans or hoods over the stoves so grease coats the walls and attracts pests. Workers arrive at farms and find that there are no beds. One group of workers had been sleeping on air mattresses for a whole year. One worker-leader we work with, Miguel (pseudonym), is lucky to have his family living with him here in the US (most dairy workers are here alone, with their families back in their home country). When the dairy farm Miguel worked on couldn’t retain American workers because the pay was too low, they started hiring many more Latino workers and stuffing them into the same house with Miguel’s family, causing many problems. Miguel’s family eventually moved out and his four kids had to change schools mid-year. When your landlord is your boss and vice versa, you risk losing your job when you ask for basic things to get fixed and risk becoming homeless. Unlike migrant and seasonal farmworkers who may have housing rights under federal or state laws and regulations, dairy housing is not routinely inspected for safety and basic habitability.

With the growth in dairies and the increase in immigrant workers, the Worker Justice Center began to see an increase in workplace violations in the industry as well. That prompted us to begin focusing our outreach and advocacy efforts on dairies in order to combat these abuses. WJCNY has placed priority on both litigation and advocacy strategies to push for better laws and stronger enforcement of existing laws covering dairy workers.

Lifting up the tragic stories of dairy workers killed on the job has been an important piece of our advocacy. Francisco Ortiz and Marco Antonio Ortiz (no relation) were both killed on small dairies in NY in 2013 and 2014 respectively. When OSHA conducted inspections following these deaths, they were unable to find violations and issue fines for health and safety conditions that might have led to these workers’ untimely deaths. Shockingly, despite the inherent dangers of dairy farming, dairies employing less than eleven employees are exempted from health and safety regulations. It is estimated that a mere two percent of NY dairies fall under OSHA jurisdiction, and therefore, its safety and health protections. On the other ninety-eight percent of dairies, farmworkers rely on the good will of the dairy owners to train them and provide adequate protective equipment. If workers speak up about safety concerns, they have no protections against retaliation.

Even when OSHA does have jurisdiction, their fines are minimal. We are proud of having fought hard in our advocacy targeted at OSHA, both at the local and federal levels, to win a Local Emphasis Program (LEP); a program of surprise inspections in an industry experiencing unusually high numbers of accidents and fatalities. Our partner organization, the Workers Center of Central NY, were leaders in the fight empowering workers to take the courageous step to complain to OSHA about the dangers in the industry and maintain pressure on OSHA to take further action to investigate health and safety violations on dairy farms.

Unfortunately, the LEP only goes so far and dairy farmers don’t seem very worried about the inspections. At a recent dairy farmer training I participated in, farmers presented on how an OSHA inspection would go, laughing at how little the inspectors know, and how easy they are to deceive; “Just hand them a big binder of safety instructions and they will leave you alone,” they joked.

What does this mean for the workers? A few years ago I met and began advocating for a worker who was mauled by a bull and was left to get medical help on his own. The worker was subsequently fired and lost his employer-provided housing in the middle of February because his doctor ordered bed-rest. He was unable to work for a year after the accident due to the severity of the injury. Fortunately, the farm he worked at had more than ten workers, and OSHA was able to conduct an inspection. I accompanied the inspector on the visit. The farm was issued a few thousand dollars in fines that were reduced upon appeal. I visit the farm every now and then. Like most farms where conditions are bad, there is high turnover of workers, and I have yet to hear a worker say they have been trained on how to work around bulls. The bulls are still present on the farm, and I know of several workers who have been injured by them.

Much more needs to be done to improve the safety conditions on dairies. First, Congress should remove the rider on the annual federal Appropriations Act which excludes farms with fewer than 11 employees from OSHA’s protections. Second, OSHA should increase the number of inspectors, and when workers make the brave and risky decision to come forward and file a complaint, OSHA inspections should result in significant enough citations to send a strong message to the industry and create a financial incentive for dairies to take safety precautions. Additionally, the standards OSHA uses in agriculture are outdated and too weak. Unlike other dangerous industries where there are stringent standards and safety measures, agriculture’s standards are paper thin, despite the dangerous nature of the work. Finally, at the State level, New York should create an administrative remedy that promotes annual inspections of dairies, monthly worker safety trainings and incentives to provide protective equipment, on all dairies, regardless of size.

Ultimately, improvements on dairy farms will come when workers organize and demand better wages and working conditions. Recently, a group of workers became upset that the farm increased the number of milking cows by 400, greatly speeding up the pace at which they are milking. The farm is hauling many more hundreds of gallons of milk off the farm, but workers haven’t received a cent more in wages. In fact, they are still making the minimum wage. The workers were already enduring disrespectful comments by management, including insults related to their nationality and intolerance for calling in sick to work, but it was the increased pace coupled with no raise that pushed them to action. They decided to risk getting fired and organize and demand a raise. As of this writing, they are still waiting for an answer.

National Farmworker Awareness Week: Invisibility in Health Access

The goal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is to increase access to health care and health insurance for the country’s most vulnerable and underserved populations. Unfortunately, farmworkers and their families, perhaps one of the most vulnerable and underserved populations in the U.S., are arguably an invisible community who has seen few benefits from the ACA. For those eligible to enroll in health insurance through the Marketplace, the barriers are tremendous. The application is complicated, in-person assistance in rural areas is limited, and health insurance portability (the ability to use insurance across state lines) is almost non-existent. Migrant farmworkers who enroll in health insurance must either choose to keep their health insurance from their home state, where the providers are out-of-network and costs for seeking health care are high, or re-enroll in health insurance when they move. Due to the time-consuming and complicated Marketplace application and the limited 60-day window in which they can enroll (if it is outside of open enrollment), few migrant farmworkers choose to re-enroll each time they move.

The majority of farmworkers are ineligible to purchase health insurance in the Marketplace due to their immigration status. Undocumented individuals are completely excluded from the ACA. They are not allowed to purchase health insurance in the Marketplaces, even if they want to pay the full cost of health insurance coverage. Farmworkers with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status are also ineligible for Marketplace coverage because they are not considered lawfully present for the purposes of the ACA. With the employer mandate in effect, some farmworkers may be offered health insurance by their employer, but many find the costs of premiums to be unaffordable. Still others will not be offered insurance coverage because some large agricultural employers may be exempt from the mandate if they employ a largely seasonal workforce. There are efforts underway to pass legislation that would carve out even more exemptions for agricultural employers. 

We applaud the efforts of community health centers and others who have undertaken vast efforts to educate and enroll farmworkers in health insurance and connect farmworkers to health care. But we have a long way to go before farmworker communities will fully benefit from the Affordable Care Act. Farmworker Justice works with farmworker communities, health care providers, and federal officials to help them understand the benefits and challenges of the ACA for farmworkers and their families.
 

National Farmworker Awareness Week: Community

For the “community” day of Farmworker Awareness Week, we bring you this message from Arcelia, a community health worker in California, on the importance of creating a community-wide understanding and respect for the right to a safe and healthy workplace. She asks that others in the community, including policymakers, think about their desire to be healthy themselves and to understand that farmworkers also have this wish. She asks community members to think about the things that make their workplaces safe and healthy and points out that farmworkers also deserve the right to a safe and healthy workplace.

Arcelia is a promotora de salud and member of Lideres Campesinas. For many years, she has performed outreach and education within her community on topics important to farmworkers and women and families. She is known as a wealth of information and for her caring demeanor and is frequently sought out when community members have questions about health, their rights, and helpful resources. She is also actively involved as an advocate for her community.

(click on read more link to go to blog posting with embedded video) 

Here is the translation of Arcelia’s message:
“I want to tell you that health, just as it’s important to me, is also important to you. I want it to also be important for the people who work in the fields. Just as you want to be healthy, other people also want to be healthy. The same things that you have that make your work safe and healthy, other people also want this same right to a safe and healthy workplace.”

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