From HarvestingJustice.org, Farmworker Justice, Jessica Felix-Romero, 13 Apr 2011.
Southern Migrant Legal Services (SMLS) filed a federal case alleging grievous violations of worker rights in the H-2A program. The H-2A guestworker program provides a system for bringing guestworkers into the United States for temporary agricultural work. Today, Farmworker Justice President Bruce Goldstein will testify at the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Enforcement about the need to change the broken H-2A guestworker program. His testimony will highlight the systematic problems with the H-2A program and the dangers of expanding the current guestworker program to meet agricultural labor demands.
The law suit filed on behalf of the fifteen Mexican guestworkers against Fish Farms (Newport, Tennessee) by Southern Migrant Legal Services maintains that the workers were housed in overcrowded and squalid trailers, denied access to potable water, and required workers to wash their clothes in a nearby river. The workers also allege that pesticides were sprayed close to their living quarters and in the fields while they were working. After workers attempted to record the pesticide spraying on their cell phone video cameras, managers raiding the workers’ housing and then fired all the workers en masse. Read more details of the suit in the full press release here.
Please continue to follow the www.harvestingjustice.org blog for updates from the hearing and to read FJ’s analysis of any proposed changes to the guestworker program.