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Harvest of Dignity Campaign Headquarters

Join the movement to honor North Carolina's field and poultry workers.

Our state is long overdue for reform for field and poultry workers. It’s time for better working and living conditions for the people who put food on our tables.

The Harvest of Dignity is working for:

- Safe Places to Live
- Safe Places to Work
- Strong Enforcement of Our Existing Laws

Here at our campaign HQ, you'll find the latest updates on the campaign, along with many different ways to get involved.  We need your help to make a difference!

 

Monday
Apr152013

End Child Labor in NC: A Public Service Announcement

Get involved: Learn more about legislation to end child labor
Video produced by: www.hawriverfilms.com

Agriculture is very dangerous for children. Children working on farms are more likely to die from work-related accidents, and face higher injury and illness rates than adult workers. Each year, over 100 youth die from farm-related injuries in the U.S., and many more are injured. Children who work in fields treated with pesticides are at greater risk of developing neurological and reproductive health problems, as well as cancer.

While industry likes to claim that these jobs help farmworker families, Carol Brooke, director of the Workers Rights Project at the NC Justice Center, said: “From the garment factories of New York to the coal mines of West Virginia, America decided a long time ago that child labor was not going to be the solution to bringing people out of poverty. It’s been 75 years, and we’ve never looked back. It’s long past time to close the loopholes and level the playing field for children working in our fields.”

Growing up working on the family farm is an important tradition that should be preserved, but employing young children in hazardous work should not be a tradition any longer. Child labor laws should be the same for every industry. All children in North Carolina deserve a safe, healthy and bright future.

 

Here's the 30-second version of this PSA:

 

Monday
Apr152013

Support Senate Bill 707: Family Farms/Child Labor Amendment

Bill Sponsors

Background

Agriculture is one of the most dangerous industries in the United States. Working with farm machinery, chemicals, livestock and other hazards create an environment that is particularly hazardous for children. While children make up only a tiny fraction of the agricultural work force, they account for 20% of all deaths on the job in agriculture. Under current laws, children are allowed to work as paid employees at agricultural operations beginning at age 10.  As an industry, agriculture is exempt from most child labor laws.    

Read the bill here.

Goals

  1. Remove the exemption for agriculture from child labor laws, in order to provide the same protections for children who work in agriculture as in all other industries.
  2. Preserve the exemption for children who are employed by their parent, or by a close family member.
Take Action
1. Contact the NC Commissioner of Labor and your legislator to ask them to support SB 707.
Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry
NC Department of Labor
919-807-2796
To find your legislator, go to:
2. Ask the Senate Rules Committee Chair to let the bill be heard.
Sen. Tom Apodaca
(919) 733-5745
(Buncombe, Henderson, Transylvania)
3. Write a letter to the editor of your local paper in favor of SB 707.
Download FAN’s letter to the editor toolkit: http://www.ncfan.org/write-to-your-newspaper.  If you do write a letter, please let us know at harvestofdignity@gmail.com.

 

Sunday
Apr142013

Support Senate Bill 662: Labor/Farmworkers’ Health & Safety Amendments

Bill Sponsors

Background

Farmwork is some of the most difficult, most dangerous and most important work in our community.  North Carolina is home to roughly 150,000 farmworkers.  The vast majority of the fruits and vegetables we eat are picked by hand.  However, the people who feed our families through their hard work are often among the worst paid and least protected workers in our state.    

Read the bill here.

Goals

 

  1. Raise migrant housing standards to ensure farmworkers have safe and dignified living conditions by requiring locks on doors and windows, allowing farmworkers to have visitors, providing locked storage facilities for personal items, ensuring access to laundry facilities, maintaining the grounds and housing, and providing separate showers for every 10 workers.
  2. Requiring the NC Department of Labor to establish procedures for identifying and prosecuting the most serious migrant housing violators, and ensuring that DOL has bilingual capacity to perform its regulatory duties.

 

Take Action
1. Contact the NC Commissioner of Labor and your legislator to ask them to support SB 662.
Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry
NC Department of Labor
919-807-2796
To find your legislator, go to:
2. Ask the Senate Rules Committee Chair to let the bill be heard.
Sen. Tom Apodaca
(919) 733-5745
(Buncombe, Henderson, Transylvania)
3. Write a letter to the editor of your local paper in favor of SB 662.
Download FAN’s letter to the editor toolkit: http://www.ncfan.org/write-to-your-newspaper.  If you do write a letter, please let us know at harvestofdignity@gmail.com.
Tuesday
Apr102012

Farmworker advocates “disappointed” labor commissioner is unwilling to take a stand against child labor

After a recent meeting, Farmworker Advocacy Network sends a strongly-worded letter to NC Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry

RALEIGH (April 5, 2012) – For the first time, North Carolina’s labor commissioner met with farmworker advocates this week. Unfortunately, the state agency tasked with protecting workers failed to send any signal against child labor in the North Carolina fields.

In a letter delivered today to North Carolina Department of Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry, Farmworker Advocacy Network members said they were “disappointed” to hear that “the NC Department of Labor is currently unwilling to take a stand against the employment of children thirteen years of age or younger in agriculture.”

U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis has issued “Hazardous Order” revisions that would protect young farmworkers from dangerous work. North Carolina advocates urged Berry and her office to back these regulations.

“We look forward to hearing whether the Department will make a public statement in support of these important protections for child farmworkers.  We hope that, in light of this change in public policy, you will revisit the Department's position on the employment of children in agriculture.” 

In this week’s meeting, Berry told advocates that she “did not think it was appropriate to take action on this issue until Congress acted on immigration reform,” the letter says.

But many of the children who work in the fields in North Carolina are U.S. citizens, so while immigration reform is an important part of the solution, so are simple but common-sense child labor regulations.

The letter also calls it “frustrating” that the Department of Labor has no proposals to change its approach to migrant housing inspections, especially in light of a recent study of North Carolina farmworker housing that showed numerous violations.

“We urge you to revisit this issue and find innovative and efficient ways to use the Department's resources to improve migrant housing for those workers whose employers ignore the law your Department is charged with enforcing,” the letter says.

The letter also takes issue with Berry’s stated philosophy of withholding support from regulations that do not pass muster with business. Farmworker advocates are “greatly troubled by the philosophy of the Department, expressed both by you and members of your staff, that you are not willing to support new regulations to protect farmworkers in North Carolina without the consent of the Department of Agriculture, the Farm Bureau, the Agribusiness Council, and the commodity groups.” Workers, not employers or business, are those meant to be the constituency of the Department of Labor, the letter says.

The letter is signed by Carol Brooke of the NC Justice Center and Melinda Wiggins of Student Action with Farmworkers.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Carol Brooke, Director of the Workers’ Rights Project at the NC Justice Center, carol@ncjustice.org; (919) 856-2144; Melinda Wiggins, Student Action With Farmworkers, mwiggins@duke.edu, (919) 660-3616.

Monday
Dec122011

All I Want for Christmas

This holiday season, send your wish for farmworker justice to North Carolina's Commissioner of Labor.

North Carolina Christmas trees generate $100 million for our state each year. But the people who do the hardest work are in danger. This holiday season, the Farmworker Advocacy Network is asking the North Carolina Department of Labor (NCDOL) to step up its efforts to protect all NC farmworkers.

Check out the links below to learn more about the dangerous and dehumanizing conditions that farmworkers face on a daily basis:

- Behind the Scenes in Santa Land
- From the Ground Up: Focus on Christmas Trees
- Farmworker Living & Working Conditions 

You can help make a difference by printing and signing our postcard (right) and mailing it to:

Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry
1101 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1101

You can also call in your wish to the Commissioner's office: 1-800-NC-LABOR.

Federal and state audits, as well as independent research, have recently revealed the following serious problems in NCDOL’s enforcement practices:

1) NCDOL is inconsistent in the way it issues penalties. 
2) NCDOL does not classify violations correctly, resulting in incorrect penalties.
3) NCDOL routinely reduces and/or negotiates fines downwards.
4) NCDOL does not focus its inspections on the worst migrant camps. 

Click here for more detailed reports on the NC Deparment of Labor.

(Robyn Levine, USA, 2011) SAF Fellow Robyn Levine documents the experiences of a group of migrant farmworkers who live together and work in the Christmas tree fields in Boone, North Carolina.