The Voice of America interviewed Maryland Legal Aid staffers Nora Rivero and Nathaniel Norton for a story about the problems they face reaching out to migrant farmworkers.
“Norton and Rivero say farm owners systematically intimidate them from doing their outreach to migrant workers,” said VOA reporter Mana Rabiee. “One farmer brandished a baseball bat at Rivero, they say, adding that another grower and his son threatened to shoot Norton.
“’[They] got out of their trucks and came up to the window started yelling very angry,’ Norton said. ‘One of the things the grower was yelling was, “You could be thieves. I’ve got the right to shoot people on my property.”
“Across the United States, outreach workers who deal with migrant farmworkers have similar stories of intimidation by growers. They say it’s designed to keep activists away from the poor farmworkers the activists hope to help.”
To see the segment and read the entire article, click here.
Maryland Legal Aid released a series of new brochures for farmworkers in Maryland and Delaware. “Know Your Rights!” was prepared by Legal Aid’s Farmworker Program, which provides free and confidential legal services to migrant and seasonal agricultural workers at farms, orchards, canneries, pack houses, poultry processing plants in Maryland and Delaware.
Basic rights include:
• written description of the terms of the work
before you travel
• minimum wage or the promised wage
• pay for all of your work and waiting time
• the amount of work promised
• safe and sanitary working conditions
• safe and sanitary housing
• safe transportation
• free medical treatment in case of injury at work
• freedom from discrimination and retaliation
• legal advice
The brochures are available in English, Spanish and Creole.
An article in today’s Dover Post revealed that more than $24,000 in civil penalties were levied against a Delaware farmer for migrant farmworker camp violations. The farm owner, quoted in the article, denied some of the charges, saying conditions were “fine,” and called other violations “nitpicking.” But one legal expert disagreed.
“The camps are quite old and have not been maintained,” said Maryland Legal Aid Farmworker Program supervising attorney Daniela Dwyer, quoted in the article. “They had far too many people in there than the space allowed.” Dwyer, who had visited the camps, also pointed out that the trailers and wooden clapboard houses had “holes in the wall, leaks in the ceilings and windows boarded up with thin pieces of pressed wood or cardboard.” She also noted that the common area “had three stoves and no main refrigerator; one family had to ask several times to be provided one. At least one of the stoves had a gas leak and the wiring in the kitchen didn’t seem to be professional.”