labor

After months of waiting, labor advocates disappointed new OSHA rule excludes food system workers

After months of delay, the Biden administration on Thursday released a rule dictating how employers in the healthcare sector should protect workers from the spread of Covid-19. The exclusion of meatpacking, food processing, farm, and grocery retail workers from the new workplace standards sparked an outcry from worker advocacy groups and unions.(No paywall)

Restaurant workers would stay in the industry if wages rose, new report finds

Restaurant owners have reported difficulty finding workers as many states and cities lift the pandemic restrictions that led to mass layoffs in the sector last year. But the vast majority of restaurant workers say they would stay in the industry if provided with a stable, livable wage, according to a new report from One Fair Wage and the U.C. Berkeley Food Labor Research Center.

Food workers face obstacles getting Covid-19 vaccinations

The thousands of workers who pick, pack, and process our food have become eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccine in many states. But they still face obstacles to actually getting the vaccine, as companies sort out their vaccination policies and advocates struggle to secure enough doses for a workforce that ranks among the most vulnerable to the coronavirus. (No paywall)

With food workers likely to receive a Covid-19 vaccine early, experts say states should prepare now

Many states are prioritizing food system workers for early access to any Covid-19 vaccine, and experts say officials should begin outreach to workers now to overcome any trust, language, and access barriers, writes Leah Douglas in FERN’s latest story. A vaccine may be made available to …

Ranchers, labor union call for stronger Covid-19 protections for meatpacking workers

As Covid-19 spreads in meatpacking plants across the country, a number of groups representing ranchers and farmers have joined with a key labor union to call for stronger protections for meatpacking workers. The alliance comes as the tally of meat industry workers who have contracted the disease approaches 25,000, even as companies restrict information about outbreaks at their facilities. (No paywall)

Advocates slam Trump order to keep meatpacking plants open

Environmentalists, labor groups, and animal rights advocates on Tuesday condemned President Trump's planned executive order to keep meatpacking plants open, despite reported outbreaks of Covid-19 at more than 60 of these plants across the country.

Q&A: Jennifer E. Gaddis on school food, feminism and worker rights

In Jennifer E. Gaddis’s new book, The Labor of Lunch: Why We Need real Food and Real Jobs in American Public Schools, school lunch is the framework for serious thinking about politics and people power. Gaddis makes the case that to reform school food, we need better working conditions and pay for cafeteria workers in addition to more nutritious ingredients. I asked Gaddis, an assistant professor of civil society and community studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, to discuss the pillars of her research and how school food policy should move forward.(No paywall)

In blow to workers, labor board proposes redefining joint-employer standard

The National Labor Relations Board will publish a proposed rule Friday that would change its definition of a joint employer. The move would reverse an Obama-era decision that had made it easier to hold parent companies, such as restaurant chains, accountable for the labor violations of franchisees.

‘High-road’ employers also value sustainability, study finds

A new study from the Food Chain Workers Alliance and Restaurant Opportunities Centers United found that restaurants that have higher employment standards are also invested in sourcing food that meets a higher level of environmental and economic sustainability.

Farm labor contractor fined for ‘squalid conditions’

Future Ag Management, a farm labor contractor in Soledad, California, will be fined over $168,000 for failing to provide farmworkers with appropriate housing conditions. The fine will be levied by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division.

Can your seafood be free of slave labor? New tool tries to help.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program, known best for its red, yellow, and green sustainable seafood-rating scheme, is unveiling its first Seafood Slavery Risk Tool today. It’s a database designed to help corporate seafood buyers assess the risk of forced labor, human trafficking, and hazardous child labor in the seafood they purchase. (No paywall)

GAO says climate change will seriously cost U.S.

Climate change will come with a serious price tag, says a report by the Government Accountability Office, urging President Trump to take the phenomenon seriously. The study “says that different sectors of the economy and different parts of the country will be harmed in ways that are difficult to predict,” according to The New York Times.

Ben & Jerry’s signs major agreement to protect dairy workers

In a first for the dairy industry, the ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s has signed an agreement to eventually buy all of its milk from Vermont dairies that uphold rigorous standards for treatment and pay of employees. The standards, known as Milk with Dignity, were devised by the workers themselves and based on the Fair Food Program established by tomato workers in Florida under the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW).

Alaska salmon plants hurt by labor shortage

Even as Alaska experienced a banner year for sockeye salmon, some commercial fishermen had to stop hauling in the fish because there weren’t enough workers to process them.

World’s top tuna company commits to lower bycatch, better labor practices

Responding to pressure from the environmental group Greenpeace, the world’s largest tuna supplier, Thai Union, has announced a series of initiatives designed to improve its fishing practices and protect workers from abuses. Thai Union owns the popular brands Chicken of the Sea and Sealect.

House Judiciary chair aims for new agricultural guestworker program

During his time as House Agriculture chairman a decade ago, Rep. Bob Goodlatte says he learned firsthand that the H-2A agricultural guestworker program is outdated and should be replaced. Now the House Judiciary chairman, Goodlatte says he will sponsor a bill for a new guestworker program that, in addition to foreign workers recruited to work in America, could cover the tens of thousands of undocumented farmworkers already in the country — but with no pathway to permanent legal status.

California state fair holds farmworker exhibit for the first time

For the first time in it’s 164-year history, the California state fair will includes a farmworker exhibit, celebrating the people who have keep the state’s $47-billion industry running. “The exhibit features the stories of pioneers who founded the United Farm Workers of America: Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta and Filipino union leader Larry Itliong,” along with information on modern-day labor laws like the one signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last year, guaranteeing overtime pay after an eight-hour workday for farmworkers, says Lake County News.

Farmworkers sue Monsanto in first-of-its-kind labor case

Two migrant farmworkers have filed a federal class action lawsuit against Monsanto, alleging that the company violated the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Agricultural Workers Protection Act while the workers were employed in Monsanto’s GMO seed corn fields.

This Chinese berry is part of a conservation revolution

A small, red Chinese berry is at the heart of a radical new approach to conservation, “helping to save both the forest where it grows in the Upper Yangtze region — one of the most biodiverse places on the planet — and the villagers who harvest it,” writes FERN associate editor Kristina Johnson in a story co-produced with NPR’s The Salt.

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