Invest in farm workers first!
Food system workers, including the first line of workers – farm workers – are essential workers and deserve our gratitude and support! They are risking their lives to ensure that the rest of society can eat.
Therefore, we join with our partners around the country in calling for safety, health, fair compensation and support for them and their families.
Below, I’ve included the portions of the HEAL Food Alliance platform that focus particularly on farm workers and their needs. We hope you will keep all who work in the fields in your prayers and advocate for these ways to support them as Congress considers subsequent stimulus packages. See info about the recording of Thursday’s Facebook Live from Children in the Fields Campaign. At the bottom are resources and articles on farm workers and undocumented immigrants. Finally, some words from a Capuchin Franciscan Brother, Fr. Richard Hendrick.
SUPPORT FOOD & FARM WORKERS
As Cesar Chavez said, “It’s ironic that those who till the soil, cultivate and harvest the fruits, vegetables, and other foods that fill your tables with abundance have nothing left for themselves.” Essential workers deserve essential benefits. Please take action today.
Take one or both of these actions to protect these front line workers:
- CALL ON GOVERNMENT TO ACT to ensure sick days, healthcare, worker protections, and income for all workers. Sign the Food Chain Workers Alliance petition here.
- TELL CONGRESS TO PROVIDE HAZARD PAY. Send/personalize a letter prepared by United Farm Workers.
HEALTH AND SAFETY GUARANTEES FOR FOOD WORKERS:
- All employers must be required to provide workers with information on how to protect themselves from the virus and guarantee safe workplaces including providing protective equipment, frequent and regular hand-washing breaks, and the required space for “social distancing.
- Allocate funding as needed for language-appropriate information transfer
- Farmworkers must be provided easy access to a sufficient amount of clean water at close proximity to the work site and the same health & safety information and protective equipment must be given to workers in crowded and substandard employer-provided housing.
INCOME FOR ALL WORKERS:
- Ensure that all workers receive the supplemental income they need to survive, regardless of immigration or employment status by:
- Expanding access to unemployment insurance to all workers
- Setting up lost wage funds that covers full replacement of wages for both workers and for employers who pay lost wages
PAID SICK DAYS AND HEALTHCARE FOR ALL:
- Access to free testing and healthcare coverage for all workers regardless of immigration status, including H2A and migrant workers.
PROTECTIONS FOR IMMIGRANTS
- Immediate moratorium on the Public Charge Rule which would disqualify immigrants who use public assistance from obtaining permanent residency status.
- An immediate moratorium on all immigration enforcement, including repatriations and deportations of guest workers and non-status migrants
- An immediate release of all immigration detainees from detention centers and detention camps, and adequate health services for all.
- A removal of restrictions on work permits for guest workers and migrant workers who have been laid off or terminated, or who fall ill and need to remain in the country to access health care.
EXPAND FOOD ACCESS
- Expand, increase, and protect food and nutrition programs like SNAP and Women, Infants and Children (WIC), with no discriminatory barriers including testing, citizenship, or work requirements, and expand healthy and sustainable options within those programs
ENABLE SMALL-SCALE/INDEPENDENT PRODUCERS TO PROVIDE FOOD FOR COMMUNITIES
- Provide financial support for smaller and independent producers to pay a living wage to farmworkers
Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers (MSFW) during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Recording available HERE
View the Children in the Fields Campaign discussion on Facebook Live about migrant and seasonal farmworkers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s important to understand the possible effects and injustice of the Coronavirus on the farmworker community. Some of the questions to be discussed are the following:
- What laws protect undocumented MSFWs during this time?
- Will the CARES Act protect/cover undocumented MSFW?
- Are MSFWs allowed to get paid overtime for extra hours during this pandemic?
- How can undocumented MSFWs access healthcare during COVID-19 pandemic, and anytime?
- What is actually happening in the fields? Are we seeing an increase in abuses now that everyone is under a stay-at-home ruling?
Resources & Articles
The One Fair Wage Campaign has started a relief fund for restaurant and gig workers affected by the crisis in states where it has active campaigns (CA, CO, DC, FL, IL, MD, MA, MI, NJ, NY, PA)