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New Farm Bill Might Allow Agribusinesses to Stiff Workers

The House of Representatives is currently considering weakening the FLSA rights of agricultural workers. The FLSA was designed to protect all those who toil under the employ of others. If we start taking away one group of workers' rights, whose rights will we take away next?

(Photo Credit: Frank Heinz IV/Flickr)

Fair Labor Standards Act

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was passed in 1938 by the Roosevelt administration. The FLSA defines and oversees the minimum wage, what is overtime and how it must be compensated, and prohibits child labor, among other things.

Farmworkers at Risk

Those who work in the agriculture industry are at risk of losing one of the few protections they enjoy.

Farmworkers are often exploited; it was not until 1966 that they were covered by the FLSA. The National Farm Worker's Ministry explains that there are labor laws and protections that do not apply to farmworkers, including worker's compensation and disability insurance.

The "hot goods" injunction is one way the government has ensured that food companies pay their workers what the workers are owed. If you don't pay the workers, you can't get the food to market, and food eventually spoils. The Miami Herald reports that a provision in the new farm bill would force the Department of Labor to "consult" with agribusiness before using the hot goods injunction to force companies to pay their workers wages owed.

Remember, "hot goods" is used when corporate managers don't want to pay the people in the fields. Instead of insulting and cheating farmworkers, perhaps we should show more respect for the people who plant and cultivate our food. If they stop growing it for us, we can't eat money.

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