From its top officers down to its local offices, the Agriculture Department needs to institutionalize equity in its programs and its operations, said an administration-appointed commission on Tuesday after a year-long study of the USDA. Sometimes called "the last plantation" because of racial bias in its operations, the USDA has paid $3 billion since 1999 to resolve lawsuits by Black, Native American and Hispanic farmers.
In a step hailed by the United Farm Workers union, the Homeland Security Department announced a streamlined and expedited process to protect non-citizen workers from immigration-related retaliation during labor disputes with their employers. "Unscrupulous employers who prey on the vulnerability of non-citizen workers harm all workers and disadvantage businesses who play by the rules," said Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
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)
On a 6-3 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a California labor law on Wednesday that allowed union organizers onto an agricultural employer's property to enlist farmworkers to join the union. The 1975 law was a legacy of Cesar Chavez, a founder of the United Farm Workers union.
Agricultural guestworkers will see sharply lower wages because of the USDA's decision to cancel a semiannual survey that is used to calculate their pay, said a lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal district court in Fresno, California. The suit asks the court to order the USDA to carry out the October survey so that the Labor Department can use the results to set minimum wages for the country's 250,000 or more H-2A guestworkers.
The California Supreme Court unanimously upheld a 2002 state law that allows mediation of deadlocked contract negotiations between growers and farmworker unions, including the power of mediators to set the contract terms, reported the Associated Press. The decision was a victory for "the union launched by iconic labor leader Cesar Chavez against one of the largest U.S. fruit farms," said AP.
The United Farm Workers union, which represents nearly 10,000 workers, has proposed to pay $1.3 million in back wages, penalties, and legal fees to 24 former field organizers who sued the union in 2013, reports the Los Angeles Times.
According to the United Farm Workers, three female grape pickers died in California this week, most likely because of the heat, said ABC News–Kero/Bakersfield.
After lengthy discussions and an hour-long interview with Hillary Clinton, the United Farm Workers board endorsed the former secretary of state for president.
President Barack Obama's executive order on immigration will affect indirectly at least 250,000 and perhaps as many as 500,000 farm workers, says Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
A lawsuit in federal court in San Francisco challenges FDA approval of several ractopamine-based animal drugs. The Humane Society of the United States, the Animal Legal Defense Fund and the United Farm Workers union says...