Sure employees, like grocery retailer clerks, have been by no means earlier than given a lot in the way in which of pay or recognition, however are thought of important throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
These employees have, within the case of grocery retailer clerks, organized for higher pay, generally with the help of politicians who acknowledge how important they’re throughout this time. Farmworkers have certified for a part of this: they’re now thought of important employees, for instance. Different components, like really getting paid for risking their lives to maintain the nation alive? Not a lot.
A brand new report from NPR finds that the Trump administration—particularly White Home Chief of Employees Mark Meadows and USDA chief Sonny Perdue—is working “to see how one can cut back wage charges” for international agricultural employees. That is regardless of very current adjustments in coverage to strive, desperately, to get these international agricultural employees into the nation. In brief, the Trump administration acknowledges how essential farmworkers are, however is campaigning to not solely decline to boost their wages, however really cut back them.
Sonny Perdue has repeatedly declared that wages for international farmworkers are too excessive over his time as USDA administrator. He mentioned throughout a Farm Bureau assembly previous to the COVID-19 pandemic that agriculture has a virtually $15 minimal wage, far larger than for different industries. Overseas agricultural employees have a special minimal wage than different employees, outlined by one thing referred to as the antagonistic impact wage charge, which is calculated by the Division of Labor.
In any case, Perdue’s “almost $15” assertion is deceptive at greatest. It’s $14.77 per hour in California, certain, however in different main agricultural states it’s nowhere close to that. Florida’s is $11.71 per hour; Texas is $12.67.
Chopping wages for international farmworkers has clearly been on Perdue’s to-do checklist for fairly awhile, a transfer that may theoretically give farm house owners a bit of bit more cash. In actuality, farmworkers are underpaid for expert and important labor that Individuals won’t do, and are routinely mistreated on prime of that, in keeping with varied stories (right here’s one from the Southern Poverty Regulation Heart).
But they haven’t been given any of the protections that important employees throughout a well being disaster ought to have: not sufficient masks, gloves, well being care, or house of their residing lodging, in keeping with stories like this one from Nationwide Geographic.
Farms are struggling proper now, sure, due partly to restaurant closures, a precipitous drop in demand for biofuel, and infrastructure hiccups. However lowering the pay of important employees, who’re risking their lives to carry out an important job that was already extremely troublesome, looks like the worst attainable technique to hold the meals system on this nation protected.