Michigan Migrant Legal Aid September 2017
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Upcoming Events
Wed. September 13, 2017 
12:00 PM to 1:00 PM  
Versluis Orchards

MLA Grantors Include:

Harvest of Justice 2017
GET YOUR SEAT AT THE TABLE!  Our Harvest of Justice Luncheon is September 13th, 2017.  Join us join us at Versluis Apple Orchards, 3400 Lake Michigan, in Walker, just 9 minutes from downtown Grand Rapids. Our annual luncheon is to honor the hard work of the migrants and to celebrate the harvest. Migrant Legal Aid will present the Responsible Retailer Award to an outstanding retailer who embodies the notion of fairness and quality in food production and sales. Other awards and client testimonial will be featured.  Award winning photographer Tom Kiefer (of Ajo, Arizona) will speak about his piece El Sueño Americano (The American Dream), a series of photographs of items seized from migrants at the border.  

Can't make it?   Donate $100 (see Donate links, left) and we'll invite 2 farmworkers in your honor. 

Click Harvest of Justice for more details

Migrant Legal Aid Convenes New Worker Protection Standard (WPS) Advisory Group.
Sept 7, Grand Rapids.
The Michigan WPS Advisory Group is developing an Employer Guide, specific to Michigan, which will assist farms with complying with the new Worker Protection Standards.  The Advisory Group is also developing a pocket guide for farm workers, for quick reference to protections they are entitled to under the new standards. The Advisory Group consists of experts from the US Environmental Protection Agency, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Michigan growers, MI Farm Bureau, farmworker advocates, Michigan State University's Doctor of Comparative Medicine and Integrative Biology, and Pesticide Safety Education Program, among others. 
D angling the Carrot Over the Crevasse
Goodlatte. Bad Bill.
Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) plans to overhaul the Ag Guestworker program , a plan he has had for years with the HR 1773 Ag Act.  The Ag Act proposed temporary legal status to undocumented farmworkers (to be designated as H-2C) while stripping away existing protections under law. The controversial proposal has resurfaced among lawmakers' talk of immigration reform .  The existing protections under the Agricultural Worker Protection Act and current H-2A program remain at risk.  Compare  Senator Feinstein's bill introduced this May, the Agricultural Worker Program  which provides a humane path to legalization while still protecting workers under existing laws. For a comparison chart of Goodlatte's H-2C  bill  Click here .
2017 PAAM Annual Victim Rights Conference
Teresa Hendricks and Chris Becker at Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan's Annual Victim Rights Conference 

The 2017 PAAM Annual Victim Rights Conference took place this year from  August 29 - September 1 , 2017 at the Grand Traverse Resort, Traverse City (Acme), Michigan. Teresa Hendricks, MLA Director,  and Chris Becker, Kent County Prosecutor, discussed their pilot project that showed disparities in the protection of victims of crime whose primary language is not English. Their project focused on pre-court services, where victim communications were not initially sent in the victim's primary language, unless flagged by law enforcement. The conference provided statistical support and a path for county advocates to promote better access by LEP individuals to victim services and restitution.

MLA Helps United Way Stuff the Bus

Migrant Legal Aid challenged its Staff, Interns, Board Members and friends to bring in school supplies for United Ways Annual Stuff th e Bus drive. Thank you to all who participa ted. 
H-2A Workers Rise Up due to Preventable Illness and Death of Co-Worker in Washington State
Northern Washington Farmworker's Complaints of Headaches Went Ignored Before His Death, Colleague Claims

Honesto Silva Ibarra, 28, was a married father of three from Mexico who worked in Washington on a temporary agricultural visa, according to fellowworker Barbaro Rosas, 30. Rosas had known Ibarra for a little more than a
month before his colleague became sick with headaches in the field, he says.  
read more
H-2A Workers Allowed to Sue in Federal Court Over Breach of Contract Claims

For perhaps the first time, a federal district court has expressly found federal question jurisdiction under 28 USC 1331 to hear a breach of contract suit by an H2A guestworker based on a violation of an H2A regulation.  Because the workers' FLSA claims had previously been dismissed, the breach of contract allegations were their sole remaining claims in the case.
Senior Judge Susan Bucklew of the Middle District of Florida decided original federal court jurisdiction existed under 28 USC 1331 with respect to the farmworkers' breach of contract claims.  The farmworkers, H2A workers from Honduras, had each paid sizable recruitment fees to the grower's foreign recruiter.  In violation of 20 CFR 655.135, the grower had failed to contractually forbid his foreign recruiter from charging recruitment fees. The grower argued that 20 CFR 655.135 is limited by agency principles, so that the employer is not liable for a violation of the regulation unless he knew of and authorized the assessment of recruitment fees.
The judge's decision emphasized that the case raised a question of first impression about the proper interpretation of 20 CFR 655,135 and therefore should be decided by a federal court.  
 The farmworkers are being represented by Andrea Ortega and Sara Mangan of Florida Rural Legal Services.
Reminder: Oct. 4, Local Farms Matter Forum. 
Save Local Farms, Food and Jobs Workshop
Chinese Asparagus, anyone?  Without local farmland, where will our food come from?  Where will farm jobs go?  Since 1978, Kent County has lost 72,507 acres of farmland.  If you have a passion to protect our local food resources and agricultural economy in Kent County, don't miss this critical interactive conference.  
October 4, 2017 from 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm at Blandford Nature Center
Hear from Farm Experts:
--Why Kent County is Losing Farms  
--Possible Funding Options to Save Our Farms
Help Decide:
--Which Approach is Best for Kent County?
--What's Your Role?
--Where Do We Go From Here?
Seating is limited, cilck  RSVP now.
Farmworkers' union turns 50 while fighting attacks from North Carolina lawmakers

The Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) will celebrate its 50th anniversary at its  quadrennial convention  in Toledo, Ohio, this weekend. The farmworkers union was started in northwest Ohio by Texas native and former migrant farmworker Baldemar Velásquez, who remains the union's president to this day.

MLA is dedicated to defending and preserving farmworker housing, health, income, and dignity.  
Teresa Hendricks
Migrant Legal Aid
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