We need public health and immigration policies that uphold the safety and dignity of farmworkers.
This year for #FarmworkerAwarenessWeek (and beyond), we join workers across the country in calling for frontline farmworkers to be prioritized for Covid-19 vaccination and for comprehensive immigration reform in 2021.
Study after study has shown that Black, Indigenous, and People of Color face greater exposure to Covid-19 in part because they disproportionately make up the essential workforce. In California, Latinx food and agriculture workers have seen a 59% increase in mortality during Covid—compared to 6% among white Californians; 16% for white food and agriculture workers; and 28% for Black Californians.
As a recent Food Chain Workers Alliance report notes, while the CDC issued health & safety guidance for farms in June 2020, farm employers are not obligated to comply. Alliance members surveyed reported that most farmworkers received no training on Covid-19, received no PPE, and many live in crowded labor camps where social distancing is impossible. Recent Politico reporting also documents this staggering vulnerability among farmworkers.
This is why it is critical that farmworkers be prioritized in the conversation about vaccine access and broader health and labor protections. In Florida, farm labor groups are asking supporters to sign on to this open letter to Governor DeSantis to prioritize farmworkers in the vaccine rollout, including distributing in rural areas, increasing flexibility in ID requirements, and providing information in different languages.
Lastly, immigration reform—that expands access to rights and protection for all workers, especially the right to organize—is urgently needed. But these policies must be meaningful and center human rights. The Farmworkforce Modernization Act moves in the opposite direction and thus, we join the Food Chain Workers Alliance and other farm labor partners in opposing it (see Take Action below to contact your representative).
In community and solidarity,
Tanya, Christina, Tiffani, and Anna
Featured image: Farmworker Association of Florida