now browsing by author
On November 12, 2019, H.R. 5038 – The Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2019 was introduced by Representative Zoe Lofgren of California. After conversations with CATA members, CATA has decided to oppose the bill as proposed.
This bill, divided into three sections, holds the potential to drastically alter the current agricultural labor force, creating a vulnerable workforce of mostly non-citizen, temporary workers that employers can easily control. This proposed bill does not include the right to organize for farmworkers, does not provide for any job security, and ties farmworkers ability to qualify for a legal immigration status to an obligation to keep working in agricultural for many years to come.
The three sections in the bill include:
- A limited pathway to immigration status for SOME undocumented farmworkers
- Expansion of the H-2A program to year-round work and several modifications to the program
- Mandatory use of the E-Verify program by agricultural employers.
For years, agricultural employers, particularly in the dairy industry, have been pressuring legislators for the expansion and the simplification of the H-2A program to make it easier, faster and cheaper for employers to import labor from abroad. In a separate attempt to acquiesce to those demands, the House of Representatives in July of this year added a rider (section 533) to an appropriations bill for the Department of Homeland Security (H.R. 3931) that if approved would expand the H-2A program to year-round work, with no reforms made to the program.
CATA has been engaging in conversations with our members – both workers who could and couldn’t potentially benefit from these changes – to get their feedback on the proposal. CATA’s values have always led us to commit our support to piecemeal immigration reform legislation only if it meant those who qualify could benefit without penalizing other members of our community.
There was a broad agreement across our organizational membership that this bill did not meet that criteria. We agree that the H-2A program needs to be revised with stronger worker protections and that providing a path to a legal immigration status for farmworkers is a step in the right direction, but not at the expense of other farmworkers and the immigrant community. We understand that considerable effort was put into negotiating these reforms, however, they come up short for CATA and its membership. We cannot support The Farm Workforce Modernization Act (H.R. 5038) for the following reasons:
- Path to Legal Status is Limited, Complex and Excludes Many of our Current Farmworkers: The bill has a complex process that will only benefit a portion of current agricultural workers while excluding others. Even for those who can benefit, the pathway to meaningful citizenship status is ridiculously long and obligates workers to commit to up to as many as 8 more years working in agriculture to qualify.
- Expansion of the H-2A program is dangerous and unfair to current and future workers in the program: Worker’s H-2A visas are tied to their employer, giving employers all the power. If a worker loses their job, they lose their visa and must return immediately to their home country. We have documented extensive lack of compliance with the workers’ rights regulations included in the current H-2A program. Despite this, workers in the program are extremely reluctant to report issues with their job orders and problems in the workplace because their status and their ability to return through the program depends on their employers.
We have seen the program grow significantly in our region over the past 10 years. Pro-active enforcement of workers’ rights under the program is sorely lacking and without significant reforms and the appropriate resources for the Department of Labor, expansion of the program would be irresponsible to both current and future workers in the program.
- The Mandatory Use of E-Verify in Agriculture would be a dangerous precedent: E-Verifyis a web-based system that allows enrolled employers to confirm the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States.Currently, there are no entire industries that are required under law to use E-Verify. Agriculture and many other industries depend on an undocumented immigrant workforce. Mandatory use of E-Verify in Agriculture would cause chaos in rural communities, further displace and discriminate against the community that has been harvesting our food.
Call to Action
- Call your legislators to oppose Section 533 in the appropriations bill H.R. 3931
- Call your legislators to oppose H.R. 5038 – the Farm Workforce Modernization Act
Visit https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials for contact information for your federal, state and local elected officials. You can also be directly connected to US representatives by calling 202-225-3121 and US senators by calling 202-224-3121.
CATA – The Farmworker Support Committee is seeking a part-time Community Organizer at 15-20 hours/week. The Community Organizer will primarily focus on health and safety education and workplace organizing with migrant farmworkers and community members throughout Southern New Jersey. The ideal candidate will speak excellent Spanish and English and have experience in organizing for social change. This position will work closely with CATA’s lead organizers and CATA members to advance CATA’s mission of working for better working and living conditions for all immigrants.
CATA is a migrant farmworker organization that is governed by and comprised of farmworkers who are actively engaged in the struggle for better working and living conditions. The mission of CATA is to educate workers about their rights and support them as they develop and exercise leadership skills in order to create a better life for themselves and their communities. Responsibilities: The Community Organizer will be primarily responsible for increasing CATA’s outreach to farmworkers and other immigrant workers throughout Southern New Jersey.
The goal of this position is to increase the number of workers receiving community education on health and safety in the workplace and the number of workers taking action in instances of unsafe work environments. Specific responsibilities will include:
- Participate in the development and implementation of a plan for community outreach and education around issues of workplace safety and health in the migrant community.
- Coordinate with other NJ organizers for regional and local leadership meetings, member activities, leadership training, etc.
- Facilitate worker meetings
- Educate yourself (with assistance from other CATA organizers) around issues pertinent to our community – labor laws, immigration etc.
- Attend monthly staff meetings and local community meetings.
- Maintain communication and develop relationships with local community leaders, etc.
- Demonstrated commitment to social justice and human rights values
- Experience with CATA or other social justice organizations is not required, but a plus
- Competency of speech and writing in both English and Spanish
- Demonstrated ability to work independently, while also being able to work as part of a team.
- Possess a valid driver’s license and a vehicle.
- Ability to work evenings and occasionally weekends
Location: Glassboro, NJ
Details: Part-time hourly position, nights and weekends required.
CATA is a human rights organization and is dedicated to policies to promote the hiring of people of color and women.
To apply, please send a cover letter detailing your interest in the position and a resume with two references by April 5, 2019 to: email@example.com
Call 856-881-2507 for more information.
Unfortunately, the NJ Legislature passed a $15 minimum wage bill that fails farmworkers. The Governor has promised to sign the bill on Monday. We need to ask him to wait and get the bill amended to guarantee farmworkers a $15 minimum wage by 2026.
The current bill only raises farmworkers to $12.50 an hour by 2024 and then allows for state officials to stop any further increases if they so choose. Most workers get to $15 by 2024 and seasonal and small business employees get to $15 by 2026, we think farmworkers should be included in that group.
We are organizing a Twitter storm in response to NJ Gov. Murphy TODAY, February 1. Please send the tweets below to @GovMurphy with the attached image at 1pm EST / 10am PST.
@GovMurphy Farmworkers should be guaranteed a $15 min. wage too. A quick amendment to the current bill can do that. The exclusion of farmworkers from labor protections is hardly new, but it’s disappointing to see it happen in the Garden State. #fightfor15 @CATAMigrantes
NJ legislators want a $15 min wage that leaves farmworkers behind. We want ALL workers to get $15. However, legislators have decided to perpetuate a long discriminatory history of exemptions for farmworkers. Tell @GovMurphy to amend bill before signing. #FightFor15
@CATAMigrantesNJ Leg. passed a $15 minimum wage bill that fails farmworkers. @GovMurphy can change that. Tell him to request an amendment to the bill before signing that guarantees farmworkers $15/hour by 2026. Tweet him now! #fightfor15 @CATAMigrantes
Farmworkers don’t have protected right to organize in NJ. Farmworkers are exempted from overtime in NJ. Now, NJ legislators want to exempt them from a $15 min. wage. Tell @GovMurphy to reject this & demand an amended bill to GUARANTEE farmworkers $15. #fightfor15 @CATAMigrantes
You can also send a message to the Governor here: https://nj.gov/governor/contact/all/ and call: 609-292-6000
The UFW – @UFWupdates – will also be tweeting, so please feel free to use their tweets as well.
Even if you can’t join the twitter storm, please tweet at the Governor when you can.
SI SE PUEDE!
New Jersey Farmworkers need your support!
Contact Senate President Steve Sweeney today and tell him to eliminate special circumstances for farmworkers and guarantee them a $15 minimum wage by 2026, no strings attached! Tell him to:
* Guarantee Farmworkers a $15 minimum wage by 2026 along with seasonal workers and small business employees
Senator Stephen M. Sweeney
West Deptford Office: 856-251-9801
Salem Office: 856-339-0808
This proposal (A-15) raises many workers to $15/hour by 2024, but it still creates multiple classes of work and wages. Farmworkers are only guaranteed a minimum wage of $12.50/hour by 2024, but after that, the proposal allows for a small committee to pause the increases if “necessary,” potentially excluding farmworkers from a $15 minimum wage. Seasonal and small business employees get to $15/hour in 2029 and tipped workers are capped at $5.13 by 2024.
We want to support this proposed bill because we know that New Jersey workers need at least a $15 minimum wage. However, it is disappointing that there are workers who will have to wait more than 5 years to get to a $15 minimum wage and that farmworkers, a critical workforce in this state, are not even guaranteed a $15 minimum wage. This proposal, while beneficial to most of New Jersey’s workforce, specifically carves out farmworkers to a greater extent and allows for the potential creation of a subclass of workers.
Click the link below to read CATA’s latest newsletter about our members and the important work they are doing.
CATA, The Farmworkers’ Support Committee, seeks a part-time Community Organizer in Chester County, PA:
CATA – The Farmworkers’ Support Committee is seeking a part-time Community Organizer at 15-20 hours/week. The Community Organizer will primarily focus on base-building with immigrant workers throughout Chester County, PA and will also oversee two projects designed to evaluate conditions within the mushroom industry as well as build community awareness and ability to respond to immigration enforcement. The ideal candidate will speak excellent Spanish and English and have experience in organizing for social change.
This position will work closely with CATA’s lead organizer, the Kaolin Workers’ Union and CATA members to advance CATA’s mission of striving for better working and living conditions for all immigrants. CATA is a migrant worker organization that is governed by and comprised of migrant workers and their families who are actively engaged in the struggle for better working and living conditions. The mission of CATA is to educate workers about their rights and support them as they develop and exercise leadership skills in order to create a better life for themselves and their communities.
The Community Organizer will be primarily responsible for increasing CATA’s outreach to farmworkers and other immigrant workers throughout Chester County, PA. The goal of this position is to complete an evaluation of workplace conditions in the mushroom industry, identify and recruit new membership and leaders, and to build community awareness on how they can respond to immigration enforcement. Specific responsibilities will include:
• Participate in the development and implementation of a plan for community outreach and education around workplace conditions and immigration activity in the area.
• Coordinate with other CATA organizers for regional and local leadership meetings, member activities, leadership training, etc.
• Facilitate worker meetings
• Educate yourself (with assistance from other CATA organizers) around issues pertinent to our community – labor laws, immigration etc.
• Attend monthly staff meetings and local community meetings.
• Maintain communication and develop relationships with local community leaders, etc.
• Demonstrated commitment to social justice and human rights values
• Experience with CATA or other social justice organizations is not required, but a plus
• Competency of speech and writing in both English and Spanish
• Demonstrated ability to work independently, while also being able to work as part of a team.
• Possess a valid driver’s license and a vehicle.
• Ability to work evenings and occasionally weekends
• Proficiency with computers and Microsoft Office programs
Location: Kennett Square, PA
Details: Part-time hourly position, nights and weekends required. This position is currently funded for one year with plans to extend if funding is available.
CATA is a human rights organization and is dedicated to policies to promote the hiring of people of color and women.
To apply, please send before February 1, 2019, a cover letter detailing your interest in the position and a resume with two references to:
Call 856-881-2507 for more information.
Yesterday, September 5, 2017, the Trump administration ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program, commonly known as DACA. This is yet another attack on the immigrant community as he advances his racist, anti-immigrant agenda that has also created the travel ban, increased detentions and deportations, threatened the creation of a border wall, and weakened the rights of immigrant workers.
DACA gave many undocumented young people who had arrived in the United States as young children a work permit and the ability to pursue a higher education. Now the program will no longer accept new applications, all current DACA work permit will remain valid until their expiration date, and if the permit expires before March 5, applicants must renew for another two year permit before October 5.
In the meantime, President Trump has given Congress six months to come up with an immigration reform bill, something that they have been incapable of and unwilling to do for over 15 years.
“Yesterday’s repeal of the DACA program only reveals the depth of racism and xenophobia in our society and its influence over our political system. It is a call to us, immigrant communities and allies together, to name this for what it is and to hold our government accountable for providing a real and humane resolution to our country’s immigration crisis,” said CATA’s Executive Director, Jessica Culley.
It is important to remember that while the termination of the DACA program is part of the problem, it is not the whole problem. This country desperately needs comprehensive immigration reform, not just work permits or temporary statuses for certain groups of people. Many politicians find it easier to justify a program like DACA, saying the recipients are here “through no fault of their own” because they were brought over as very young children. Now is not the time to divide children from parents or blame parents for bringing their children here, they are not the enemy. They are here because they wanted a better life and better opportunities for their families. The enemy is the system – the unjust immigration laws and unfair trade policies – that have created the poverty and marginalized communities that are the root causes of migration.
“To the dreamers, I say don’t lose hope – you have to keep fighting because this is only the beginning. We have to push Congress to give us a solution, not just for the dreamers, but for everyone,” said Efren Diego, CATA’s Board President.
CATA is here to support DACA members and to call on Congress to take this opportunity to pass true immigration reform, not a piecemeal plan that will further punish the majority of undocumented immigrants living in this country. We stand together with the DACA community and will continue to stand up for what we know is right and just, even though the current administration is doing all they can to divide and suppress. This will not divide us; it will only make us stronger.
This week, we are celebrating Farmworker Awareness Week to raise awareness about farmworker issues in our communities. CATA’s Food Justice Coordinator, Kathia Ramirez, wrote about what it’s like to migrate to the United States and become a farmworker in this piece produced for Why Hunger’s Food Justice Voices series. Read the article here and a special thanks to Why Hunger for supporting this article.
The Farmworker Support Committee (CATA) and its members believe in an inclusive country that stands for tolerance and respect for all people, regardless of race, religion, country of origin, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and immigrant status. The actions of President Trump in his first week in office do not represent or create that kind of country. His executive orders calling for the construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and banning entry of refugees and citizens of specific countries only promote discrimination and continue to create strong divisions between the people in this country.
“The most important thing is that they respect us and they give us [immigrants and refugees] the opportunity to advance ourselves in our work and family lives. We are not going to tolerate a government that is discriminatory towards us. We are also a part of the development of this country and this country can’t develop economically without us,” said Efren Diego, president of CATA’s Board of Directors in response to President Trump’s executive orders.
We know that now is the moment to organize ourselves and lift up our voices, as many times as it takes, against the discriminatory policies that are currently being implemented. We need to be united in order to face what is coming in the future. We cannot think just of ourselves and in our own interests, we must see how we are all connected in the struggle for the greater good. It is our responsibility to be in solidarity with our brothers and sisters, including the Latino community, refugees, Muslims, the LGBT community, African-Americans, and any other group that comes under attack.
These recent actions and term of President Trump provide us with an opportunity to reflect on how we are going to live out our values. It gives us the opportunity to act in defense of these values and to seek out unity and justice for everyone.
All of us here at CATA wish you and your family peace and joy in the New Year! Thank you for all of your support!
Read CATA’s newsletter, The Siembra, here.
Today, June 23, 2016, the Supreme Court announced that they could not come to a decision on the legality of President Obama’s executive actions that would have given deportation relief and work permits to undocumented parents of citizen children and students who came to the United States as children after 2007 but before 2010. The 8 judges deadlocked in a tie, 4 in favor and 4 against. Unable to make a decision, the lower court decision to suspend the programs remains in effect.
We are very disappointed with the Supreme Court and its inability to come to a decision in favor of the undocumented community in the United States. We are also disappointed in the government and politicians for their anti-immigrant attitudes and their refusal to fix our broken immigration system.
Immigration policy should not be based on fear and intolerance, but rather on the fulfillment of people’s basic human rights and recognizing the dignity of all people. The lack of a comprehensive immigration reform is extremely frustrating and the migrant community is tired of hearing the same rejection time and time again. Congress needs to stop focusing on petty politics and focus on creating a genuine comprehensive solution.
For CATA, a path to citizenship is the solution for the over 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. We will continue fighting for the rights of migrants so that they receive the recognition that they deserve for their contributions to the well-being of this country.
Read about what CATA has been up to in our latest newsletter, La Siembra.
CATA Declaration Against ICE’s Actions in January 2016
Beginning January 2, 2016, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested 121 people in three states – Georgia, North Carolina and Texas. Many who were arrested were women and children. Immigration says they’re looking for people who are “priorities for enforcement” and/or individuals with previous deportation orders. What we really know is that most are from Central America and are not a risk to public safety.
CATA denounces these actions by the Obama administration and the Department of Homeland Security because they are focusing on terrorizing families and individuals, many of whom are in compliance with the orders of immigration; being present at appointments with immigration and some even being monitored with ankle bracelets.
“We understand that these actions by ICE are designed to rob people of their right to a fair hearing before an immigration judge and to spread fear in the migrant community,” said Jessica Culley of CATA. “It is the job of immigrant organizations like CATA to ensure that all people know their rights and to fight together against these injustices.”
We ask that our communities stay alert, but not be frightened. If you have information about the activities of Immigration, please call us so we can try to investigate. Our phone numbers are: 856-881-2507 in New Jersey, 610-444-9696 in Pennsylvania, and 410-572-5959 in Maryland.
Also, remember, do not open the door to anyone without knowing who it is. If a police officer or immigration agent arrives home, they have to show a court warrant through the window or under the door. They must have the name and address of a person who lives there on the warrant in order to enter. If they do not have this information, do not open the door.
We must be united and we invite you to stay in touch with CATA.
As we look back on 2015, I am excited by the progress made by our members, supporters, and staff at CATA during this year.
This year our members and staff:
- Lauched RadioCATA, CATA’s very own low-power FM station in Bridgeton, NJ. The station also streams online at com, so we hope you tune in!
- Completed another successful growing season in CATA’s organic community gardens in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
- Advocated for a stronger Worker Protection Standard (WPS) to lessen farmworkers’ risk of exposure to pesticides. The new WPS was released this past September and our members are now focused on enforcement and implementation.
- Provided health and safety and workers’ rights trainings to hundreds of farmworkers and migrant workers.
- Advanced CATA’s credit union application. We are working through this multi-year process to charter a credit union for CATA’s members to have control over their finances and influential economic power.
- Participated in local, national, and international meetings and conferences on the topics of food, environmental, and climate justice, ensuring that workers’ rights are always a part of the dialogue.
You can also read more about CATA’s 2015 in the latest edition of our newsletter, The Siembra.
Our members continue to fight to change the unfair systems and policies that oppress migrant workers and their families. We affirm that the struggle goes beyond the recognition of the basic human rights of migrants and workers. The struggle is to challenge society to not be guided by fear and intolerance, but by the recognition of the value and inherent dignity of human life.
Our work in the coming years will be dedicated to addressing these issues. We wouldn’t be able to do this important work without the help and financial support of our friends and allies. Any contribution to CATA, large or small, puts us all one step closer to living in a society that respects the rights of all people.
For your convenience, a reply card and envelope are enclosed for your response. If you prefer, you can make your tax-deductible gift online through Just Give at http://tinyurl.com/Donate-to-CATA.
All of us here at CATA wish you and your family peace and joy in the New Year! Thank you again for all your support. ¡Si se puede!
Nelson Carrasquillo, General Coordinator
If we can raise $400 in donations by December 16, 2015 for CATA’s Organic Community Garden in Kennett Square, PA, we will receive a matching $400 grant! The garden is run by CATA members and provides organic produce to the community and allows for members to share their agricultural knowledge with younger generations. The garden is part of a CATA’s effort to promote pesticide-free agriculture and increase access to healthy, organic foods to the migrant community. Please consider making a donation to the garden by December 16, 2015 to help support this important work. Thank you!
CATA is seeking an intern for the Spring 2016 semester for our brand new Community Radio Station in Bridgeton, NJ. Read the full job description HERE. Please send your resume or letter of interest to Meghan Hurley at firstname.lastname@example.org by Jan. 8, 2016.
On September 28, 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the revised Worker Protection Standard (WPS). Since then, CATA has taken the time to closely read and examine the new revisions in order to provide a clear analysis and position.
During the comment period on the proposed revision that took place last year, CATA provided thoughtful analyses and recommendations to lawmakers, individual experts, and other organizations to submit comments urging the EPA for better farmworker protections. As a result, nearly 200 CATA farmworker members and supporters submitted their own public comment on the WPS.
We recognize that some of the changes are an improvement to the previous standard. Employers are now required to give a pesticide safety training every year instead of every 5 years, as was the case in the old WPS. Also, the EPA has established 18 years of age as the minimum age for applying pesticides. The previous rule did not stipulate a minimum age. The new rule maintains the requirement of a central posting area for information about the pesticides being used, even though it was proposed to be eliminated. These changes do allow for more protections for farmworkers but will only be beneficial if they are enforced properly.
In order for the changes to be effective, responsible government agencies must have the capacity to enforce meaningful regulations and employers must also be held accountable for their actions. We advocate for more funds to be channeled to the enforcement agencies so that a sufficient number of inspectors can be hired. Inspectors must be bilingual and be able to speak Spanish and Creole in order to communicate directly with workers. We feel there should also be an increase in the number of surprise and random inspections at the farms and fines should be raised in order to discourage noncompliance. Also, enforcement agencies should work closely with community-based farmworker organizations in ensuring farmworker safety.
Exposure to pesticides causes farmworkers to suffer more chemical related injuries and illnesses than any other workforce nationwide, yet protections to workers afforded by the WPS are fundamentally inadequate. It is important to note that root-cause problems of farmworker’s occupational exposure to pesticides will not be remedied, even with the revisions.
While it was important for CATA and its members to demand a stronger WPS, we do not believe that the WPS is an acceptable standard for protecting workers from pesticide exposure. We believe that the best method of risk reduction is to mitigate and eventually eliminate pesticide usage in agriculture. More support should be given to organic farming, Integrated Pest Management programs and other practices to facilitate the transition to toxic-free agriculture. Phasing out the use of pesticides is the only way to guarantee that farmworkers will not face the harmful risks that come from exposure. And this will not only benefit farmworkers, but will improve the health of farmers, consumers, and the natural environment as well.
Download the full statement here.
CATA has launched a new radio station for its members and the migrant community. The Spanish language station is broadcast live from Bridgeton, NJ on 102.5 FM and streamed on the Internet. The station will now play an integral role in spreading CATA’s message so that our members and the wider community can organize and fight for their rights.