In This Issue
Upcoming Events
    Cup of Justice  
Follow us at:

Like us on Facebook

MLA grantors include:









 Michigan Migrant Legal Aid April 2016

MLA Attorneys Pursue Gavin Orchards in Federal Court  
On March 29, 2016 MLA Attorneys Mariza Gamez-Garcia and Ben O'Hearn attended Judge Jonker's Rule 16 Conference.  The conference set forth dates for disclosures and ordered alternative dispute resolution. Gavin Orchards is accused of underpaying their workers, using substandard housing, and record keeping violations of worker protection law. 

U.S. Department of Labor finds Michigan violated law and agreement regarding Agricultural Employment Services
In February 2016, U.S. DOL Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training, Portia Wu, informed Gov. Snyder that the state was out of compliance with requirements for state merit-staffing of Agriculture Employment Services for Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers and in violation of a 1998 Settlement Agreement. Michigan is required to reinstate merit staffing employees whose jobs were transferred in December of 2015 to local Michigan Works! Agencies. This action will better ensure farmworkers can find and apply for jobs they desperately need and provide needed oversight of services to Migrant & Seasonal Farmworkers. AES workers are expected to return to their jobs by June 30th.

MLA's Victim Language Access Coalition- Update.
On March 30, 2016 the coalition met to review preliminary results of its pilot initiative and discuss strategies moving forward. Early data collected show the program has worked to identify LEP victims and provide them with language access for pre-court services. The next meeting of VLAC will occur in early June, and its efforts will be highlighted in a news broadcast sometime in April on WoodTV. 

Michigan's Wage and Hour Agency Enables Wage-theft from Piece-rate Harvesters
Despite decades of enforcing Michigan's minimum wage laws for the benefit of farm workers who are paid by piece rate, MI Wage and Hour now declines to apply the state's $8.50 minimum wage law (Workforce Opportunity Wage Act) to workers who earned $4.00/hour picking asparagus. The issue brief of Farmworker Legal Services outlines the unprecedented and mistaken interpretation of law that the Wage and Hour Agency has made in a recent decision.
"The agency's arbitrary and capricious misinterpretation of Michigan's minimum wage law is horrifying," says Teresa Hendricks, Director of Migrant Legal Aid.  "When our watchdog state agency stops protecting workers' who pick by piece rate for their living, and when nearly all those workers are Hispanic, it amounts to state-sponsored discrimination and wage theft," She said. 
And there's no shortage of wage-theft already occurring in Michigan.  Michigan Migrant Legal Aid tallied its wage theft and damages, from 2005 to the present, and found $1,939,201.23 recovered on behalf of its clients.  

MLA Appears at Hearing on SB 501: Anti-Immigrant Driver's License Bill
MLA Staff Attorney, Ben O'Hearn, appeared before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to oppose the legislation that would result in racial profiling. The bill, which MLA has determined is unconstitutional, also appears to violate international treaties that allow reciprocal driving privileges among the 122 countries. 

Grower's Unite Against SB 501
Director, Teresa Hendricks assembled a group of Michigan growers to publicly oppose SB 501. The group presented written opposition to Speaker Cotter, Representatives VerHuelen and Brinks and other legislative members of the Agriculture Commission.  Representatives VerHuelen and Brinks, and Speaker Cotter have acknowledged the groups opposition and will likely consider it in the next session. 

Legislative Updates
MLA's Suit Against Arrellano Lands Him in Jail
On March 29, 2016 Arrellano's new counsel filed an appearance, after his former counsel withdrew. Arrellano was ordered to appear in person before Judge Green in the U.S. District. When he failed to appear a warrant was issued and he was arrested.  Plaintiff's continue to come forward as suit grows.  

MLA Joins Keep Families United March in Support of DACA/ DAPA
On March 31, 2016, Cesar Chavez Day, MLA Staff Attorney, Ben O'Hearn, marched in Grand Rapids with other Hispanic Advocacy groups and religious organizations for immigration reform and support of the Executive Order for expanded DACA and DAPA. The Executive Order, signed by President Obama on November 20, 2014 is the subject of an appeal to U.S. Supreme Court. 
Giving the 3.5 million workers picking produce on American farms a raise to match the $15 an hour many fast food workers are fighting for sounds unaffordable, right?

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson argues that low-skilled farm workers help economy, as he urges U.S. Supreme Court to back the Obama administration on immigration.

Allegations: An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's  Wage and Hour Division  found that Overdevest Nurseries hired approximately 55 foreign workers under the  H-2A  visa program to perform seasonal agricultural work during the 2012 and 2013 growing seasons. Investigators determined that the Bridgeton, New Jersey, employer paid its domestic production workers less than the rate paid to the H-2A workers during that time, in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
The story of the migrant workers in Immokalee, Florida is the story of countless farm workers across America. They come from Mexico or other South American nations to create a better life for themselves and their families but what they often discover is that conditions can be abusive, cruel, and inhumane.
MLA is dedicated to defending and preserving farmworker jobs, dignity, health, income, and legal rights.  
Teresa Hendricks
Migrant Legal Aid
Want to help?   Volunteer with us