From YumaSun.com, James Gilbert, Sun Staff Writer, 6 Jun 2011.
Sixteen migrant workers from Yuma County, including a 13-year-old boy, have settled a lawsuit against international company Monsanto over alleged violations of employment practices.
“Since these types of federal employment cases usually take several years to litigate, we feel very fortunate that these low-wage workers were able to receive a good settlement early in the case,” said attorney Pamela Bridge with Community Legal Services, a not-for-profit civil law firm in Arizona, who represented the migrant workers. “It was a monetary statement.”
In June 2010, Monsanto recruited the workers from San Luis, Ariz., to detassel corn in Indiana. The workers were promised free transportation to Indiana, decent, free housing and certain wages.
However, according to the lawsuit, once the workers arrived in Indiana, they were housed in an overcrowded, substandard hotel. Furthermore, it contends, they were not paid for a couple of weeks and had no way to get food.
The lawsuit also alleges that while in the fields, the migrant workers were not given the proper equipment, which caused most of them to receive blisters. The workers were never paid for all of the wages promised to them. After a couple of weeks, the workers returned to Arizona.
Bridge said once the workers called CLS, the organization began working with attorneys from Monsanto to resolve the matter. Since the issues were not resolved, the workers returned to Arizona and filed a federal lawsuit in February 2011.
According to Dave Snedden, Monsanto North American lead for seed manufacturing, the settlement resolves all disputes between the parties, and the lawsuit brought by CLS will be dismissed. The financial terms of the settlement, he added, are confidential.
The dispute, Snedden said, involved the expectation of employees of Ramon Cota regarding the terms and conditions of the work they were hired to perform. Cota is a contractor who was supplying farm labor to do seasonal agricultural work for Monsanto.