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AFL-CIO Backs Baja Farm Workers’ Rights

The AFL-CIO has urged the Mexican government to ensure that the rights of some 80,000 agricultural workers in Baja California—including tens of thousands who have been on strike in the San Quintin Valley—are protected.

In a letter to Mexico’s Secretary of Labor Jesus Alfonso Navarrete Prida, AFL-CIO International Department Director Cathy Feingold said that the “protection contracts” growers force upon workers “are the single most serious threat to freedom of association and democratic collective bargaining in Mexico.”

Along with wages, the striking workers—members of the trade union group known as La Alianza—are demanding an end to those protection contracts, which have been the subject of complaints filed to the International Labor Organization (ILO) and criticized by a recent International Trade Union Confederation delegation to the San Quintin Valley.  

In addition, Feingold writes that the documented workers’ rights violations in San Quintin, where the strike has been focused, include the refusal to pay overtime and social protection benefits, sexual harassment, lack of maternity and paternity leave, child labor, exposure to pesticides, discrimination and violations of freedom of association and collective bargaining.  

I urge you to protect the rights of these workers and ensure the effective implementation of Mexican labor laws and the ILO fundamental workers' rights. Workers arrested for exercising their right to protest should be released. I hope you will support the creation of an outside commission to document the situation and ensure negotiations result in a decent wage and improved working conditions.

Find out more about the conditions and abuses these workers face from a recent series in the Los Angeles Times and more about the strike from the Times.        

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