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Time to Drive Michigan Forward with Farmworker Justice

Across Southeast Michigan, the state and the nation, migrant workers deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. As members of Washtenaw Solidarity with Farmworkers (WSF), we are proud to be a partner in making sure that farmworkers, regardless of who they are or where they come from, can have a safe and secure livelihood.

WSF was started in 2016, and originally began in support of the National Coalition of Immokalee Workers campaign. We have since expanded to support organizing local farmworker initiatives in Southeast Michigan. We are proud of what we’ve accomplished to bring resources and attention to migrant workers, including raising over $20,000 last year to install Wi-Fi connections in area migrant farmworker camps. But we also recognize that more needs to happen to ensure they can live in Michigan without fear of deportation, with safe working conditions, while earning wages that end poverty. This is why we must pass laws like the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, the Fairness For Farmworker’s Act, and the Drive SAFE Package.

Even before COVID, farmworkers struggled against unjust working conditions and poverty wages. With the constraints COVID-19 has put on our food system, these reforms are far more urgent. Lawmakers need to recognize that and deliver for the people who are responsible for bringing food to our tables. We’ve been looking at the 2021 Rural Policy Action Report, and we believe some of the reforms listed, like the Farm Workforce Modernization Act and the Fairness For Farmworker’s Act, are essential to bring fairness to our food system and long overdue security for workers.

The Farm Workforce Modernization Act would provide a pathway to citizenship for farmworkers. Farmworkers have been fighting for over 20 years for a path to citizenship, and this cannot wait any longer. The bill has backing across the political divide and is supported by United Farm Workers, United Farm Workers Foundation, and Farmworker Justice, among others. This bill has already passed in the U.S. House, but is being held up in the Senate, which is why our Michigan Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters must support this bill. Everyone benefits when the people who put food on our tables are safer and more secure in their work.

It’s also time to pass the Fairness For Farmworker’s Act, a bill that would give farmworkers equal rights to overtime pay and minimum wage standards. We must ensure that farmworkers receive equal protection and pay just like anyone else. The ability to receive overtime pay would bring much needed income to farmworkers so they can provide for their families and earn a living.

Here in Michigan, the Drive SAFE Package, which is currently before the state legislature, would allow everyone, regardless of their immigration status, the freedom to have a drivers’ license. Until 2008, immigrants, whether undocumented or not, had the right to a drivers’ license. These bills would restore this right and would make our roads, communities, and immigrant families safer. Last month, immigration justice advocates from across the state rallied in Lansing when a hearing for the bill was scheduled. But at the very last minute, the Speaker of the House, Jason Wentworth, cancelled the hearing, which stopped consideration of these important reforms. It’s time for us to be heard! The state legislature must finally pass these bills so immigrant families can have peace of mind when driving their loved ones to the doctor’s office or just getting back and forth from work.  

As harvest season comes to a close, WSF will not back away from bringing these important issues to light to support farmworkers and our food system as a whole. Our power is greater when we elevate the voices of others, and we are proud to be a partner in the struggle for justice and equality for all farmworkers.



Copyright © 1989 to 2021 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 11/09/21 19:40:12 -0800.




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