farmworker safety

CDC urges states to give PPE to farmworkers as bird flu safeguard

States should open their stockpiles of personal protective equipment for distribution to farmworkers, with top priority for dairy farms where cows are infected with the H5N1 bird flu virus, said a Centers for Disease Control official. Meanwhile, the Agriculture Department confirmed six additional cases of bird flu in cattle on Thursday, ending a 12-day pause in new cases.

Farmworkers gather in New York to chart future of policy and organizing goals

Farmworkers and labor organizers from across North America will convene in New York City this weekend for a “people’s tribunal,” where they plan to produce a list of overarching priorities that will guide their organizing efforts going forward. (No paywall)

We need a farm bill for farmworkers

In the latest piece in our series with Mother Jones, The Farm Bill Fight, Teresa Cotsirilos explains why the nation's most important agricultural law largely ignores farmworkers—and why that needs to change. 

Duvall: Biggest problem facing agriculture is lack of labor

Congress must reform the guestworker program to ensure there are enough workers on the farm to produce America's food, said the president of the largest U.S. farm group on Sunday. (No paywall)

How the H-2A visa program failed two farmworkers from Mexico

In 2021, Vicente Gomez Hernandez and Humberto Feliciano Gomez, cousins from a poor village in Oaxaca, joined the hundreds of thousands of men and women from Mexico who come to the U.S. each year on an H-2A seasonal visa to work on farms around the country. The visa is meant to be a safe and efficient alternative to illegal border crossings, a win for farmers, who need the labor, and for workers, who get much higher wages than they can earn at home. It did not turn out that way for the two cousins.

As climate disasters worsen, researchers push for farmworker safety net

In the last few weeks, academics and labor advocates have released a flurry of studies and surveys with the same urgent finding: Climate disasters are wreaking havoc on the health, safety, and economic stability of farmworkers, and well-funded government programs are the best way to provide workers with relief. (No paywall)

Researchers link glyphosate to liver and metabolic disease in children

Researchers looking at health records and blood, urine and saliva samples found "an association between early-life exposure to glyphosate and liver inflammation and metabolic disease in young adults" in California's Salinas Valley, according to the lead scientist Brenda Eskanazi. Glyphosate is the most widely used weedkiller in the world.

Florida farm-labor recruiters sentenced for racketeering, human trafficking scheme

Two managers of a Florida farm-labor contracting company are going to federal prison for their role in a multi-state racketeering and human trafficking scheme. Between 2015 and 2017, federal prosecutors say, the company forced more than a dozen workers on H-2A visas to harvest crops against their will, while paying them less than they were owed. (No paywall)

California farmworker bill will reduce intimidation during union elections, says union official

In a remarkable reversal, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation on Wednesday that will make it easier for farmworkers to vote in union elections, after indicating that he would veto the bill only weeks before. The governor changed course after facing mounting pressure from union leaders, workers, and political allies, including President Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. (No paywall)

Gov. Newsom won’t support farmworker union voting bill

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday he “cannot support” a bill that many farmworkers say would prevent their employers from intimidating them during union elections, disappointing the United Farm Workers union, which had launched a weeks-long march to the state capitol in support of the legislation.(No paywall)

As the heat rises, who will protect farmworkers?

In much of the country, as climate change drives increasingly brutal heat waves, farmworkers lack protection. How they fare will largely depend on whether their employers voluntarily decide to provide the access to water, shade, and rest breaks that are critical when working in extreme heat. (No paywall)

Amazon, Starbucks make workers’ rights group’s ‘Dirty Dozen’

By disregarding the health and safety of their employees, some of the most prominent companies in the food industry have created situations that led to workers being injured or killed on the job, according to a new report by the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH), an advocacy group.(No paywall)

Labor Department says potato grower systematically violated workers’ rights—again

Blaine Larsen Inc.—one of the largest potato growers in the country—must pay hundreds of farmworkers more than $1.3 million in back wages, after a Department of Labor investigation found it had systematically underpaid employees. It is at least the third time the DOL has investigated the company for labor violations in as many years.

Farmworker safety agency is needed in California, says report

The pandemic “simply became another life-threatening hazard” among many facing Indigenous farmworkers in California, said a report released on Monday. Based on surveys and interviews of more than 300 workers, the report called for the creation of a state agency dedicated to enforcing …

Labor Department starts work on heat safety rule

Following what the White House called "a dangerously hot summer," Labor Secretary Marty Walsh announced on Monday the first step toward a federal standard to protect workers from exposure to excessive heat on the job. The work on a heat safety rule would be part of a government-wide initiative to lessen the impact of hotter weather, a feature of climate change.

New study adds to mounting evidence that farmworkers suffer higher rates of Covid-19

The rate of Covid-19 infection among farmworkers in California’s Salinas Valley was four times higher than in the rest of the local population, according to a new study published by JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association. Based on a survey of more than a thousand workers done between July and November 2020, the study described a strong correlation between high rates of infection and the conditions that farmworkers face in their day-to-day lives, including overcrowded housing and a lack of workplace benefits like paid medical leave.(No paywall)

Vilsack sets $700-million program to help farm and meatpacking workers

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a new $700 million grant program to provide direct financial relief to U.S. farm and meatpacking workers hit hard by Covid-19. But it was unclear whether undocumented immigrants, who make up roughly half of all farmworkers and nearly a quarter of meatpacking workers, would be eligible.

Oregon adopts heat safety rule to protect farm labor and other workers

In the wake of a heat wave blamed for the death of a farmworker, Oregon adopted an emergency rule on Thursday that guarantees workers rest breaks in the shade and plenty of cool water to drink during hot weather. Farmworker advocates called for the passage of federal protections against heat stress on the job.

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