farm labor

Striking Migrant Farm Workers Win Settlement

Nov 8, 2017
Elizabeth Sanders

After about three weeks on strike, a group of migrant workers employed at a tobacco farm in Gerrard County, Kentucky have reached a settlement with the farm’s owner.

The workers came from Mexico under the H2A visa program, which allows foreign nationals to enter the U.S. for temporary or seasonal farm work. The Department of Labor program also sets a minimum wage for the workers and requires the employer to provide for costs associated with the work, such as work supplies and travel to and from the farm.

Elizabeth Sanders

Workers on a tobacco farm in Garrard County, Kentucky, are entering the third week of a strike over claims that they have not received the pay guaranteed by a federal work visa program. The strike is part of a movement across the South and Midwest to organize migrant laborers who enter the country legally to do seasonal work.

The farmers chanted in Spanish as they marched to deliver a letter to the farm owner.

“Que queremos? Justicia!”


Wikimedia Commons Corey Coyle

While exact statistics are unknown, it’s estimated that about 60 percent of farmworkers in the United States are undocumented immigrants. But amid growing labor shortages in large agricultural states and President Donald Trump’s promise to assemble a “deportation task force,” farmers nationwide have voiced concerns that stricter immigration laws could break the backbone of America’s agricultural economy.

For that reason, proposed legislation called the Agricultural Worker Program Act, now widely referred to as the “Blue Card Act,” has garnered a lot of national media attention of late.