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Tell Congress: Protect the Food Chain During the Pandemic — Our Farmworkers Are in Danger!

Right now, nearly two-thirds of farmworkers who are keeping grocery stores stocked through the crisis are vulnerable due to legal loopholes.

Click here to sign the petition to Congress to protect farmworkers and to ensure our food chain is not threatened during the pandemic.

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The farmworkers who grow, pick and pack the food that ends up on our grocery store shelves have been deemed “essential” workers during the coronavirus pandemic, but are vulnerable and need additional health and safety measures in place to protect them from being infected by, and spreading, the coronavirus. Despite the important and essential work they do, Economic Policy Institute research reveals that U.S. farmworkers are paid very low wages, earning less than workers without a high school degree and only earning two-fifths of what comparable workers outside of agriculture earn.

In addition, migrant guestworkers are at risk. According to EPI analysis, about 10% of all farmworkers in the United States—over 200,000 workers—are migrant guestworkers employed with temporary work visas through the H-2A program. H-2A workers face particular challenges because their visa is tied to their employer—rendering them virtually indentured to their bosses—and numerous reports and media exposés have revealed that they are frequently the victims of wage theft, financial bondage and other workplace violations.

They need additional protections because many live in cramped employer-provided housing and are transported in buses to and from worksites every day. To add insult to injury, NPR revealed this month that the Trump administration wants to give H-2A workers a pay cut. 

Here's our petition to Congress:

Congress must provide protections for our farmworkers including paid sick and family leave, and require that employers provide essential protective gear for all farmworkers. Farmworkers already have difficult and dangerous jobs, and are now considered essential workers during the pandemic; they deserve additional protections and fair pay.

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-- The RootsAction.org Team

P.S. RootsAction is an independent online force endorsed by Jim Hightower, Barbara Ehrenreich, Cornel West, Daniel Ellsberg, Glenn Greenwald, Naomi Klein, Bill Fletcher Jr., Laura Flanders, former U.S. Senator James Abourezk, Frances Fox Piven, Phil Donahue, Sonali Kolhatkar, and many others.

Background:
>>  EPI:  "Nine in 10 farmworkers could be covered by the paid leave provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act—but not if smaller employers are exempted"
>>  EPI:  "Farm employment, safety issues, and the H-2A guestworker program"
>>  EPI:  "Trump administration looking to cut the already low wages of H-2A migrant farmworkers while giving their bosses a multibillion-dollar bailout"
>>  NPR:  "White House Seeks To Lower Farmworker Pay To Help Agriculture Industry"


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