The pandemic has proved that farmworkers need to be treated like frontline warriors. Farmworkers have been working day in and day out throughout the pandemic so that the rest of the Americans can have food on their table. Therefore, it is essential that their basic health and safety needs are fully met. It all starts with understanding their rights and making it easy for them to acquire those fully.
Farm managers need to realize that farmworkers are already very vulnerable to respiratory illnesses and related occupational hazards. For example, the use and application of complicated pesticides already make farmworkers very susceptible to respiratory infections, putting them at a greater risk of contracting the coronavirus infection.
A farmworker’s basic necessity is to be able to stay safe from the harmful effects of pesticides. Therefore, they need to be provided with the right of safety and protective equipment to carry out their work efficiently. At the same time, they also deserve adequate access to sanitation, bathrooms, and other safety standards as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
If a farmer has come down with a bad bout of flu or other symptoms of the coronavirus infection, they shouldn’t be coerced into coming to work just because it’s time for the fruit to ripen. This is a clear violation of their right to paid leaves but also puts the lives and health of other workers at grave risk.
A lot of farmworkers have been unable to cope with the health challenges put forward by the pandemic because of their limited (or rather restricted) access to medical care. Unfortunately, farmworkers haven’t had the same access to coronavirus testing and healthcare compared to other working classes.
As cited by studies, the U.S. Department of Labor has stated that only 24% of all the undocumented farmworkers in the U.S. have some sort of healthcare insurance.
After the pandemic surfaced, congress made covid testing free for uninsured individuals. However, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act largely excluded undocumented immigrants and H-2A workers.
Although farmworkers are subject to some of the most difficult working conditions, they also receive fewer legal protections. Most farmworkers around the country are not entitled to overtime salary. Some of these don’t even cut the federal minimum wage.
At the same time, the federal law doesn’t even allow them to form unions, further barring them from demanding reasonable pay. This lack of legal protection is far more prominent in the case of undocumented workers of H-2A visa carriers.
Farm Aid H-2A LLC from Anthony, Florida, helps farm managers and organizers understand their labor’s basic needs and offer them generously. We are an H2A employment agency that also provides advisory and counseling services to farms for better labor management, right protection, and provision of fundamental necessities. You cannot leave your farmworkers vulnerable. Join hands with us to take action now.