Farm workers file lawsuit against Department of Labor
YAKIMA, Wash. — Washington farm workers recently filed a lawsuit against the federal government in an effort to make sure that they still recieve fair wages.
According to a recent press release from Columbia Legal Services farm worker Ramon Torres Hernandez and his union, Familias Unidas por la Justicia, filed a lawsuit on Dec. 17 against the U.S. Department of Labor relating to changes that will drastically lower harvesting wages for workers.
Columbia Legal Services says the DOL is wanting to implement an “hourly wage guarantee” which would make hiring cheaper for growers. It would also encourage them to hire foreign workers on H-2A visas, because of the decrease in cost.
The move to an hourly minimum wage instead of a piece-rate wage would mean that instead of getting paid for how much they pick, workers would get paid for how long they pick.
“It is hard work but if I work fast, I can fill five bins of cherries in about eight hours and make more than $30 per hour,” said Torres Hernandez. “If I am paid minimum wage instead of a piece rate, I would lose over $3,400 each year.”
The union’s motion for a restraining order is in the hopes that it will pause the wage change decision in time for the lawsuit to make its way through the courts.
This is a developing story.