The previous administration used its final weeks of power to push through a final slew of anti-immigrant policies, including an “unconscionable” move freezing the wages for thousands of seasonal farmworkers for two years. It was a plan to financially benefit farmers while screwing over the kind of workers that very same administration had declared “essential” amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
But because of successful litigation launched by farmworker advocacy groups, these seasonal laborers will get their raises, The Fresno Bee reports.
“The wage increase was in jeopardy because of a wage freeze proposed under former President Donald Trump that aimed to help farmers, many of whom lost profit and laid fallow their land due to the impact of the shutdowns in early 2020,” the report said. “Farmworker advocates sued the Department of Agriculture over the proposed wage freeze and secured an injunction to stop the ruling.”
It was cruel enough that undocumented farmworkers were deemed essential but were then shut out of emergency pandemic relief. But then the previous administration further targeted workers who were already “among the lowest-paid workers in the nation, generally earning poverty-level wages,” Farmworker Justice said at the time. “We are pleased that the federal court overturned the Trump administration’s regulation that would have frozen wages for U.S. and foreign farmworkers at employers that use the H-2A agricultural guestworker program,” organization President Bruce Goldstein now tells The Fresno Bee.
While farmworkers have always been essential, the holidays have served as an important reminder of the vital labor of these workers. We all benefit from their work, whether you see it in front of you or not:
“Thousands of farmworkers will get raises thanks to a lawsuit,” United Farm Workers tweeted earlier this month. “Alongside allies @FarmwrkrJustice and @ufwfoundation, we blocked the Trump administration move that would have withheld $1.6 billion from farm workers over the next 10 years.” Undocumented farmworkers and other essential workers deserve more than our thanks. They deserve dignity, they deserve a living wage, they deserve workplace protections, and they deserve immigration relief.