Sunday, September 11, 2011

Does the H-2A guest worker visa program make it easy to exploit farmworkers?

In 2007 a report issued by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Close to Slavery: Guestworker Programs in the United States, concluded that H-2A workers "are bound to the employers who 'import' them. If guestworkers complain about abuses, they face deportation, blacklisting, or other retaliation." Federal regulations to protect the workers "exist mainly on paper," it added. "Government enforcement ... is almost nonexistent."

By David Bacon, California Lawyer magazine
September 2011

In the fall of 2006 Irma Luna, a community worker for California Rural Legal Assistance in Fresno, got a phone call from the tiny town of Tulelake, on the Oregon border. Hundreds of farmworkers, the caller said, were living at the Siskiyou County fairgrounds, and many were being fired and sent back to Mexico.

Luna and CRLA attorneys Alegria G. De La Cruz and Michael Meuter drove 500 miles through the Central Valley to investigate. At Tulelake they found about a hundred angry laborers waiting at the local library. The workers said that Sierra Cascade Nursery, a leading grower of strawberry plants in the United States, had contracted in Mexico for 600 people to spend six weeks at its facilities trimming strawberry plant roots. The company, which develops rootstock and sells strawberry plants to growers around the world, owns more than a thousand acres of nurseries in northern California and southern Oregon. [...]

Read the full article:

No comments: