of Labor’s farmworker job training program in Texas and Louisiana. In one of the MET rooms, there are shelves lined with the “Texas Labor Market Review”; the “Texas Agricultural Facts”; “The Migrant Health Newsline”; magazine boxes of articles on crop production, “fair labor standards” copied out of the Texas Register, along with other documents and newsletters almost all of them, generally speaking, pertain in some way or another to agricultural workers. On a separate wall, as you walk by a desk beside the entrance door, there is another sort of information. It is information about the attitude of the organization toward the workers themselves. There is a photograph of an agricultural worker leaning back against a wall: he is tired, and he is sitting on a cabbage sack after what seems to have been a long day of work. And there is a quote, from some magazine or newspaper no one remembers clipping, questioning whether we shouldn’t worry more in hard economic times about the millions never paid by income tax cheaters than about the people who pay for their groceries with food stamps who might have gotten a free meal. And surrounding the quote, on other walls, there are maps depicting the “Percent of People in Poverty” across the nation; “Crop Areas, Seasonal Work Periods, and Job Services Offices” by regions; and graphs depicting the “Month of Departure from Home Base.” Most farmworkers will never see themselves as this, of course: shadings on maps or graphs; dots on a Texas map indicating their location. They are a part of the stream and tend to have a micro view of their existence rather than the macro view of the researcher, but nevertheless, the macro view will have an effect on them. It is in that light that Craddock sees the study MET has just completed, now encompassed in two bound volumes. They are entitled, dryly enough, “Farmworker Protective Laws,” bound in a light-blue cover, and “Federal and State Employment Standards and U.S. Farm and Labor,” which is bound in gray. It is the light-blue book that Craddock hopes will be a “practical informational source for farmworkers and grassroots personnel who deliver social services to the farmworker community,” as he says in a promotional press release. The blue is a pared-down version of the larger gray volume; its flip side is an “unabridged Spanish translation” of itself. The gray book is “designed primarily as a technical reference tool for public policymakers, program administrators, and farmworker advocates.” \(Both are available free from A table at the beginning of the gray volume describes specifically the subject matter of the books. They include summaries of the coverage provided by laws and regulations dealing with child labor, civil rights, health and safety, housing, insurance, labor contractors, collective bargaining, agricultural chemicals, and wage and hour, among others. The categories are then further divided into such things as statutory limitations on age, hour and related standards for child labor; wage and age discrimination civil rights laws; farm labor housing standards for health and safety; worker’s compensation coverage; and wage payment and collection laws, and so on. To ensure maximum accuracy, before final publication each summary was sent to the agencies responsible for enforcing the specific provision. Those agencies which didn’t respond in writing were contacted by phone. Comments were incorporated into the final summaries. On the table in the gray volume, beside a list of each of the 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the federal government, a full, halfdarkened, or fully darkened moon designates the coverage each of the separate entities provide: whether the law at each level provides a “standard that applies to agricultural and non-agricultural workers on substantially equal terms, or whether it is a provision that applies to virtually all farmworkers” or whether the coverage for agricultural workers is less than for others. It was by calculating the total number of “moons” that Craddock was able to calculate the number of “standards” that apply to others and not agricultural workers. And it was after a thorough comparison of the different laws that Craddock was able to generalize some of the findings, adding support to the conclusions migrant farmworkers have held all along. Child Labor “The laws in 27 states, or well over half of the country, permit farm employment at a younger age, for longer hours, or under otherwise less favorable conditions than those applicable to minors in nonagricultural occupations,” according to Craddock’s summary. “And children working the fields in 16 other states are unprotected entirely by the child labor laws of those jurisdictions.” At the federal level, while the minimum lawful employment age is 18 in hazardous non-agricultural occupations and 14 for most non-hazardous non-agricultural activities, “the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 contains broad loopholes: It allows children as young as 16 to engage in hazardous farmwork. It opens non-hazardous farmwork to children as young as ten on farms subject to the federal minimum wage. It lifts the age threshold completely on smaller farms. And it limits agricultural working hours only to the extent of forbidding employment during local school hours,” Craddock wrote. Wages and Hours “Over half of the state minimum wage laws do not apply at all to the farm industry, according to Craddock’s summary. “Puerto Rico has an elaborate labor protective program featuring both a minimum wage and a guaranteed income and 19 states have established a wage floor for at least a portion of the agricultural labor force, ranging in July 1988 from $1.50 to $4.25 an hour.” “But like the Fair Labor Standards Act, many of the state minimum wage laws and administrative wage orders categorically exempt certain classes of agricultural employers or exclude farmworkers of a certain age, occupational subgroup, or labor force attachment.” “Congress and the state legislatures long ago decided not to impose disincentives and criminal sanctions for the employment of farmworkers beyond what most working men and women consider reasonable working hours. To this day, four of five overtime laws and nearly two-thirds of the maximum hour laws and related provisions have no effect on agricultural employment.” Insurance and Workers’ Compensation “More than nine out of ten states still compel only the very largegt farm operations to pay unemployment insurance contributions” on behalf of their agricultural employees, according to Craddock. The practice is in line with the current federal unemployment insurance requirements. “In 15 states, farmworkers are eligible for employer-paid medical treatment, wageloss payments, and related worker’s compensation benefits” to the same extent as their counterparts in other industries. Nevertheless, worker’s comp laws in 17 states cover farm labor under more restrictive rules than those applied to nonfarm employment and in 19 of the states, the laws exclude farm labor altogether.” Health and Safety “More than three-dozen states impose on most employers within those jurisdictions a general duty to protect the health and safety of their work force at the place of employment,” according to the report. “But in only seven states does that obligation extend to farm employers on the same terms that apply to non-farm establishments. And in 15 of the three-dozen states there are no agriculturally applicable job safety standards at all.” “Part of the gap in coverage is a result of Congressional actions,” according to Craddock. “Congress has perennially banned the expenditure of federal dollars, both by OSHA and by states administering federally approved plans, to enforce the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 against agricultural operations that employ ten workers or less.” “Further, the Act invalidates all nonfederal standards dealing with on-the-job safety issues already regulated by OSHA, effectively preempting state and local THE TEXAS OBSERVER 11
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