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)
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.
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 …
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.
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)
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.
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.
It’s 1 a.m. and the stars are out as hundreds of people shuffle slowly along the wall that forms the border with the U.S. in the small Mexican city of San Luis Río Colorado, Esther Honig reports in FERN's latest story produced with the Nation magazine. In heavy boots and wide-brimmed straw hats, almost everyone here is headed to work in the vegetable fields of Yuma County, Arizona. Bundled against the frigid November air in puffy coats and fleece blankets, they carry thermoses of hot coffee and mini coolers packed with breakfast and lunch, often small, tightly rolled meat burritos. The wait to get through the small port of entry averages two hours but on some days can take as many as four. (No paywall)
California Sen. Dianne Feinstein said she will work with fellow senators to give legal status to undocumented farmworkers and streamline the H-2A visa system for agricultural guestworkers. "It's time to give farmers the help they need and protect the essential workers who work hard to put food on our tables," said Feinstein, a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Farmworker advocates fear the USDA’s decision last month to cancel the Farm Labor Survey is a step toward dismantling the already modest protections for agricultural guestworkers under the H-2A visa program in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic.(No paywall)
Few farmworkers in Oregon report getting tested for the coronavirus despite knowing infected people or being directly exposed to Covid-19, according to a survey of 200 workers across the state. And unprecedented wildfires are only make things worse.
Over the past six months, Covid-19 has spread rapidly through the workforces of farms, food processing facilities, and meatpacking plants in nearly every state, infecting tens of thousands. Yet determining the exact number of workers who have contracted or died from the virus is virtually impossible, because few states are publicly reporting case and death data in the food and farm sectors.(No paywall)
An outbreak of the novel coronavirus among farmworkers in California's Salinas Valley spawned a coalition of former adversaries that is racing to safeguard both the workers and the farms where they work, as Liza Gross reports in FERN's latest story, published with Univision.(No paywall)
Farmworkers at a supplier for Driscoll’s, the largest berry distributor in the world, won a raise earlier this month — as well as some Covid-19 safety measures — following a series of actions demanding better pay and working conditions.(No paywall)
After several weeks of strikes by workers at six fruit-packing facilities in Yakima, Washington, and a number of outbreaks of Covid-19 in food production and processing plants, the state will require stronger protections for agricultural workers. The new protections, which Gov. Jay Inslee announced on May 28 and which take effect June 3, require agricultural employers to provide all workers with personal protective equipment at no cost, ensure physical distancing or barriers between workers when distancing is not possible, place hand-washing stations at regular intervals among workers, and implement sanitation and distancing on employer-provided transportation.(No paywall)
In a rare organized action, more than 100 nonunion workers joined a work stoppage at Rancho Laguna Farms, a California grower that supplies Driscoll’s, the largest berry producer in the world. The workers were protesting a demand that they pick only the best fruit for the same pay, even though quality was spotty, making it hard to earn more than minimum wage at their piece-work rate of $1.90 a box.(No paywall)
Farmworkers are "especially at risk of falling ill from Covid-19" because they often work without protective equipment, are exposed to pesticides, and live in crowded quarters, said the advocacy groups Environmental Working Group and Farmworker Justice on Wednesday. (No paywall)
Like firefighters and police officers, farmworkers have been deemed “critical infrastructure workers,” meaning they will stay on the job even as the pandemic grows. But despite their essential status and a persistent outcry from their advocates, many of their employers, as well as state and federal agencies, have so far failed to address their heightened risk, reports Esther Honig in FERN's latest story.(No paywall)
In the name of making safety regulations easier to implement, the EPA proposed on Thursday to reduce the size of buffer zones intended to protect people from exposure to pesticides during their application on the farm. Environmental and farmworker groups said the proposal would increase the risk of pesticides being sprayed on or drifting onto workers, neighbors, and passersby.