Protect Farmworkers from COVID-19

Target: Eugene Scalia, Secretary of Labor

Goal: Require COVID-19 testing and safe living arrangements for agricultural workers.

COVID-19 has spread at an alarming rate in America’s migrant farmworker communities. This is because at many farms it is difficult to social distance and safety equipment is often not provided to stop the spread of the virus. There are no rules requiring farms to provide workers with protective gear and no rules limiting how many people can be housed in the same space. The Department of Labor has encourages farms to follow CDC guidelines, but has set no requirements. The nation depends on these farmworkers for food, but has neglected to protect their health.

In the past, farmworkers have frequently been exploited, and continue to be exploited today during the pandemic. Even before the virus, farmworkers had to work very long hours in the sun, sometimes with harmful pesticides, and live in cramped housing. Now during the pandemic, workers are at a much higher risk for contracting the virus because they often live in housing where social distancing is impossible and they aren’t provided with protective gear like masks or face shields when they’re working. And if a farmworker does get the virus, it’s likely they don’t have health insurance.

Migrant farmworkers in particular are often dependent on their employers for housing and equipment. The housing provided to them is often crowded, with as many workers sleeping in one space as possible. During the pandemic, this is a breeding ground for the virus. Housing units that were previously meant to hold 25 people should now be limited to 15 to meet social distancing requirements, yet employers continue to keep housing units full.

Farmworkers are indispensable and deserve to work in healthy conditions. Without them we wouldn’t have food in our grocery stores. They shouldn’t have to risk their lives to do essential work. Sign the petition below to call for farms to equip their workers with safety gear and provide safe housing to protect their health.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Secretary Scalia,

Farmworkers are essential because they provide the food that we need. During the pandemic, farmworkers are at a much higher risk for contracting COVID-19 because their working and living conditions are not set up for social distancing. To make matters worse, many employers have neglected to provide their workers with protective gear to stop the spread of the virus. Housing units for farmworkers continue to be crowded, despite the clear needs for social distancing. Safe housing and adequate gear should be provided by employers, especially because many farmworkers do not have health insurance.

It is crucial at a time like this that we support essential workers, including farmworkers. I demand that you require farms to provide their workers with protective equipment and provide housing that has social distancing measures.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: KUOW 94.9




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2 Comments

  1. Jose Espino says:

    As long as they are legal immigrants, sure why not.

  2. Justin Recht says:

    So many Western people are unemployed – why are they not working on farms? Because it is hard, dirty and under-paid, it would be a “low” class job.

    Migrant workers should be respected for their efforts to do these essential jobs that no one wants to do!

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