Tag Archives: migrant labor

ACTION: AgJobs Reintroduced Today, Show your Support!

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Today, Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and Representatives Howard Berman (D-CA) and Adam Putnam (R-FL) introduced the Agricultural Job Opportunities, Benefits and Security Act, aka AgJOBS. This bill has bipartisan support and the backing of business and labor interests. The push of the bill is the stabilization of the labor market in the agricultural industry and earned path to citizenship for eligible farmworkers

Click here to send your Member of Congress a message telling them to support AgJobs!

From United Farmworkers

Who are America’s farm workers? You don’t see them in the restaurants, grocery stores or farmers’ markets where you buy your food. They are part of an invisible world where the food just appears on the shelves.

Here are some facts about the people who labor in our fields. They work in substandard conditions for wages far below the poverty line. Their real wages have not increased in nearly 30 years. The average farm worker makes just $13,000 per year. Many have no health care and can’t take time off to seek medical care for themselves or their families. They often live in decrepit housing that you wouldn’t even let your dog live in. Unsafe working conditions and injuries on the job are common occurrences. Many employers use the threat of deportation to ensure workers’ silence.

There’s a bipartisan immigration bill before Congress that could drastically improve the lives of these men and women who pick our country’s food. It’s called AgJOBS–The Agricultural Job Opportunities, Benefits and Security Act (S. 1038, Feinstein).

AgJOBS represents a critical opportunity for farm workers and their employers to finally address this crisis. It’s a compromise that will provide America with a stable farm labor force, help ensure that farm workers are treated fairly, and finally give the men and women who pick our food the opportunity to come out of the shadows and earn legal status and fair wages in safe conditions.

This bill is a great step towards the end goal of comprehensive immigration reform. The unique needs of the agricultural sector merit a separate piece of legislation for those needs to be met. We applaud Senator Feinstein and Reps Berman and Putnam for introducing this important piece of legislation and hope that when the time comes for an immigration reform bill to hit Congress, we can count on their backing.

Click here to send your Member of Congress a message telling them to support AgJobs!

Bush’s Midnight Attack on Farmworker’s

A post by Farmworker Justice has been making the rounds on the blogosphere this week. Apparently the Bush administration is making last minute changes at the Department of Labor that will set migrant farmworkers back to the Bracero era.

CHILDREN FOR HIRE TEXAS

These will be the most far-reaching changes in the laws regulating agricultural guestworker programs since 1942.  They will return us to an era of agricultural labor exploitation that many thought ended decades ago.

The changes cut wage rates and wage protections for both domestic and foreign workers, minimize recruitment obligations inside the U.S. and curtail or eliminate much of the government oversight that is supposed to deter and remedy illegal employer conduct. 

It comes as no shock that while this administration has LOUDLY been proclaiming the “successes” of worksite raids, they are quietly undercutting wages and workers’ rights.

For more, here’s a round-up of coverage:

Nezua at the Unapologetic Mexican discusses the changes

Latina Lista sums it up nicely with a post titled:  Bush Administration now bails out agricultural industry with changes to guestworker program that creates a government sanctioned slave market

Bush’s Parting Gift: Working againstMigrant Farmworkers

America’s Voice Discusses Why Now, more than ever, is not the time for these types of changes.

Natural Disaster Exposes Unbalanced Policy

As I posted last week, immigrants are proving vital in the efforts to rebuild Texas after Hurricane Ike. On Thursday, the Houston Chronicle ran a story discussing the need for immigrant labor in the storm’s aftermath.

The need for labor and the simultaneous crackdown on undocumented immigrants is creating a type of catch-22 in Texas.

But this tug and pull of the labor force highlights an uneasy dilemma: The region needs the muscle of undocumented immigrants, but simultaneously is a cog in a broader crackdown of illegal immigrants at worksites.

I think that the example of Texas is a microcosm of what is occuring across the nation. We have always been a country that is built by the contributions of immigrants, but we have lost sight of that in recent years. The contributions immigrants bring to our country, our economy and our culture have been lost amidst the nativist rhetoric that blames immigrants for everything from Global Warming to the recent Economic Collapse. No, really.

“There’s just no mechanism in place right now to provide those important laborers work authorization,” said Leigh Ganchan, a Houston immigration attorney with Haynes and Boone. “It’s a shame that employers can’t tap into a whole segment of society that’s willing and capable to provide those services. Our nation is more vulnerable than it would like to admit, I think. Vulnerable, meaning we need people to help us rebuild our infrastructure after major disasters like this.”

During this pivotal election time, we should be demanding that both candidates address the issue of immigration in a head-on and direct manner. Instead, the campaigns have remained frustratingly hesitant to discuss the topic (though at least Obama responded to the Sanctuary’s survey – for more on this click here). The only true attention they have given Comprehensive Immigration Reform was recent attack ads that show politics at their worst.

It is time for a real discussion about all of the issues facing the nation – not the least of which is immigration reform. Just ask the folks in Texas.