Monday, June 1, 2015

Farmworker Abuse in Kentucky No Surprise

That they're brown and not citizens just makes it nostalgic and familiar.

Bruce Schreiner at the AP:

Mexican fieldworkers lured through a guest worker program to do sweaty, back-aching work in Kentucky tobacco fields were paid far less than their guaranteed wages and lived in rat-infested housing, according to federal lawsuits against a half-dozen farmers.

Three separate lawsuits filed this past week in Kentucky allege numerous abuses of the H-2A program by the handful of farmers named as defendants.

The guest worker program has been a staple in Kentucky agriculture. It brings in temporary fieldhands from other countries to handle jobs that go unfilled among local workers. Those chores include harvesting tobacco and stripping leaves from harvested stalks to prepare the crop for market.

The plaintiffs — 39 Mexican guest workers represented by Southern Migrant Legal Services and the Kentucky Equal Justice Center — are seeking back wages and other damages. They claim violations of federal and state labor and civil rights laws.
Not to mention that green tobacco is horrifically toxic - nicotine's a poison, remember - and no farmwarkers get protective clothing or masks.

Like so many other crops, tobacco used to be a family operation. Parents and four kids could set, weed, cut, hang, strip and hand-tie several acres, enough to pay for Christmas.

Then the bottom fell out of the small-farm market, now it's all Big Ag, and the browns have to suffer and die for it.

Read more here:

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