Shortcut Navigation:


Today’s Farm Workers Aren’t Free

Today’s Farm Workers Aren’t Free

Freedom to come together and negotiate in a union is pretty high on the list of the reforms working people are fighting for. This is even more important in the case of migrant farm workers. They work seasonal jobs that are not only dependent on their bosses, but for the very visa that gains them entrance into the country for their livelihood.

This is Jose Alberto. He worked at the farm of North Carolina state Sen. Brent Jackson (R) for four years, hoping to make more money than he did as a taxi driver in Mexico to support his wife and two children. After Alberto accidentally broke a piece of equipment, Jackson’s son and farm manager demanded he pay for it.  When Jose Alberto refused, he was fired and evicted from his housing. 

Now, he and six other workers have filed a lawsuit against the Jackson Farming Co. for unpaid wages and Alberto’s unjust firing. After they filed the suit, a farm employee called them at their homes in Mexico and threatened that if they didn’t drop the suit, they wouldn’t be rehired. None of the seven have been offered jobs on the farm again this season. The message Jackson sent to all the people who work on his farm is clear: Speak out and you will lose your job. 

Unpaid wages, an unjust firing and blacklisting employees who complain about unpaid wages. It is what working people who work at Jackson Farming have been dealing with. Now, they’re facing a climate of fear for speaking out. Seven workers have not been rehired after they filed legal claims for unpaid wages—and it’s only going to get worse unless we stop it.

Send an email to Jackson and tell him to stop the retaliation, rehire blacklisted and fired workers, and allow employees to negotiate together to create a better workplace.

This fear of retaliation is widespread on farms through the United States, and it is why coming together in a union is so important for people who work these seasonal farm jobs. The farm bosses know they can bring in people to work, treat them poorly, deny those who stand up for their rights a visa for the next season and, in that way, keep everyone else in line. Without a union contract and a strong grievance mechanism to challenge this practice, working people have no way to protect themselves and often have to make the difficult choice between staying silent and putting up with abusive labor conditions or speaking out and risking their jobs.

We must maintain our moral consciousness to keep on expanding the meaning of freedom, as well as making it more inclusive for those we may have left behind.

Don’t forget our farm workers.

The email address provided does not appear to be valid. Please check the address entered and try again.
Thank you for signing up to receive our blog alerts. You will receive your first email shortly.
Tagged under:

Related Stories

Take Action

Protect the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has done crucial work to safeguard Americans against the deceptive and abusive practices of big banks, student loan servicers, credit card companies and predatory lenders. Tell Congress to protect this important agency.

Sign the petition. »

Connect With Us

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • Flickr

Get Email from AFL-CIO

Msg & data rates may apply. Text STOP to 235246 to stop receiving messages. Text HELP to 235246 for more information.


Join Us Online