More than 500,000 California farmworkers play a critical role in providing Americans with the food that nourishes and sustains their health. Yet, for those workers, their own health is too often in jeopardy.
Too often, workers' calls for justice and all of our calls for a fair food system are met with false solutions like this label that try to rebrand the exploitative status quo as ethical. But there is another way.
Farmworkers fought for years to have the legal power to unionize in New York State. Finally, in 2019, the state passed the Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act, which gave agricultural and farm workers the right to collectively bargain.
By excluding jobs held by black and brown workers from basic worker protections, the Fair Labor Standards Act, adopted decade ago during the New Deal, injected institutional racism into a federal wage and hour law.
The Supreme Court heard an important case today challenging California's Agricultural Labor Relations Act, which allows union organizers to enter farms to talk to workers. The plaintiffs had a sympathetic Court but may have overreached their case.
Chávez and the UFW exposed a paradox that still affects most farmworkers. No matter how hard they work, most will never achieve the so-called American Dream as they are bound to a system of agricultural production that thrives on labor exploitation.
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