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Legal / Regulatory

April 06, 2020 - Fortune

Farmworkers deemed 'essential' but are left unprotected during coronavirus pandemic

Farmworkers deemed 'essential' but are left unprotected during coronavirus pandemic
Farm workerFile Photo / © Photabulous!

Right now, farmworkers are still toiling from sunup to sundown to plant, pick, and pack the produce we eat. As the U.S. scrambles to flatten the COVID-19 curve, grocery store shelves have been emptied, and the Trump administration has declared food and agricultural workers as one of the "essential" groups of workers who are advised to continue working, as states across the country have announced shelter-in-place orders.

The federal government, prior to this recent advisory, hasn't actually treated farmworkers like the essential workers they are deserving of the same rights and protections as others. In fact, farmworkers were excluded from the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 and the National Labor Relations Act of 1935, labor laws that provide most other workers with protections (like the right to overtime or to unionize).

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