Report Says Farm Workers Need Stronger Labor Protection

Posted December 17, 2013

A recent report shows that stronger labor protections and enforcement are needed to improve conditions for farm workers in the United States, according to an Agri-Pulse article available here.

The report, released on Tuesday by Farmworker Justice, says that “while enactment 30 years ago of the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (AWPA) has resulted in some improvement in wage theft and dangerous working conditions, more work needs to be done.”

The AWPA requires agricultural employers to “disclose and comply with job terms, regulates the use of farm labor contractors, and contains safety standards for some housing and transportation vehicles.”

Representative George Miller (D-CA), ranking member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, said, “Because our immigration system is broken, the majority of farmworkers lack authorized immigration status, and most are too afraid to step forward to challenge illegal employment practices.”   Miller continued, “Unscrupulous employers need to be weeded out, and abused workers need greater access to the justice system and immigration.”

The report concludes that the distinction between migrant and seasonal workers should be eliminated for protections under the AWPA and that damages for payroll and wage violations should be tripled or quadrupled. 

The full report is available here.  For more information on agriculture and labor law, please visit the National Agricultural Law Center’s website here.