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Thread: CA - Hundreds of Farmworkers Laid Off

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  1. #1
    Administrator Jean's Avatar
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    CA - Hundreds of Farmworkers Laid Off

    Homeland Security Investigations Strip Santa Maria Workforces Amid Labor Shortage

    Thursday, March 17, 2016
    by KELSEY BRUGGER

    In the midst of a severe farmworker shortage in Santa Barbara County, hundreds of undocumented workers have been laid off in Santa Maria as the result of Homeland Security investigations. This week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents ordered Bonita Packing Company to terminate 291 farmworkers with invalid Social Security numbers. In December, virtually the same thing happened at Adam Brothers Family Farm ​— ​co-owned by County Supervisor Peter Adam ​— ​displacing a majority of their total workforce.

    “Last week was not a good week for us,” said Mitch Ardantz, managing partner at Bonita Packing Company, better known as Bonipak, which employs anywhere from 300-500 workers. “I had to look across the table from them and tell them they no longer had a job.”

    Matilde Luna was one of those workers. Luna, who has four kids and made $10.50 an hour, has worked in area fields for 25 years and at Bonipak (which merged with Betteravia Farms) for 11 years. She received health benefits and had a retirement account. Last week, she was among those called into the office and given until March 4 to produce citizenship documents. If she could not, she had to sign a letter of resignation in English, she said.

    It is no secret that many workers in agriculture ​— ​among other industries ​— ​do not have legal status and provide fake eligibility verification documents known as I-9 forms. In fact, the Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy, also known as CAUSE, estimated that 72 percent of the roughly 17,000 farmworkers in Santa Barbara County are undocumented.

    ICE audits are relatively unheard of in Santa Barbara County. They occur in response to leads, tips, or complaints. ICE worksite enforcement agents inspect the I-9 forms growers have on file and check to see if their Social Security numbers match federal records. In the Adam Brothers case, a disgruntled employee reportedly made a complaint to ICE after she was fired following a workplace dispute. Nationwide, ICE agents conducted 1,242 audits last fiscal year; of those, Homeland Security obtained 190 indictments and 167 convictions in worksite-related cases.

    In a previous interview, Adam confirmed that a number of layoffs occurred. Rumors abound that as many as 300 workers were let go right before Christmas. When asked, Adam did not deny that figure. “We didn’t have any choice in that matter,” he said two months ago. Homeland Security stated the audit was due to an active criminal investigation of Adam Brothers. According to ICE’s website, fines for the first offense range from $375-$3,200 for “hiring or continuing to employ” each worker not authorized to work in the United States. Fines increase eightfold for the second offense.

    The layoffs come at a time when there is a 25 percent farmworker shortage ​— ​resulting in a loss of an estimated $11 million worth of unpicked crops. “Our major farmers are between a rock and a hard place,” said Scott Fina, a Santa Maria resident who participated in the mass protests against the construction of the ICE facility in Santa Maria in 2014.

    Andy Caldwell, who represents COLAB (Coalition of Labor, Agriculture, and Business), argued the issue demonstrates the need for a guest-worker program. “What did ICE accomplish?” he asked. “Those guys just go out and get another job at another farm.” In fact, it is possible that farmworkers could get a job at the same farm if they are rehired by a contractor.

    Many theories exist about what is causing the shortage. Dennis Apel, a longtime Catholic worker and Vandenberg Air Force Base activist, noted security at the border has tightened in the past eight to 10 years. Second, he said, a shift in crops to strawberries is more labor intensive. Caldwell noted developments in processing storage allow growers to store and ship all year long.

    Caldwell called for a guest-worker visa program—much like the Bracero Program enacted by President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. Workers could stay year-round; employers would provide housing and transportation, he said. Currently, few growers use the H-2A workers, a program that allows workers to stay for anywhere from two to nine months. (Last May, a low-income apartment complex was converted to farmworker housing for H-2A workers.)

    Santa Maria City Council member Terri Zuniga ​— ​who voted against the ICE facility ​— ​said she supports H-2A, but noted she is concerned such workers are not vested in the community. The permanent workforce ​— ​in the country legally or illegally ​— ​provides a significant tax base, she noted. Interestingly, she added, growers stood by their workers and also came out against the construction of the ICE facility.

    It’s worth noting that the ICE facility does not handle worksite visits. In fact, one woman showed up asking to be deported so she would be reunited with her husband in Honduras. But the officials declined and called CAUSE, asking for assistance to set her up with the Honduran consulate.

    For Apel, growers should be going further. “They should be putting their arms around them and saying, ‘Don’t bad-mouth my workers,’” he said. “They should be saying, ‘We want them and we love them.’”

    Asked how he felt about Donald Trump’s diatribe against immigrants, Bonipak’s Ardantz said, “All I can say is these are people who’ve been with us for a very long time. How do you think that makes us feel?”

    http://www.independent.com/news/2016...rkers-put-ice/
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  2. #2
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    Asked how he felt about Donald Trump’s diatribe against immigrants, Bonipak’s Ardantz said, “All I can say is these are people who’ve been with us for a very long time. How do you think that makes us feel?”
    How do you think Americans FEEL @ you not employing them? Why don't you put the effort in to gather unemployed Americans for your farm work? I'm sure many would travel, relocate for work.

    There are too many drawbacks; such as, murder, rape, drugs etc to have illegals here. Not all are bad but MANY are, many are bad in taking our social services & child schooling which is very costly. They can't be weeded out in their underground, slippery methods of coming & staying here. OUT - GOTTA GO!
    Last edited by artist; 03-18-2016 at 01:08 PM.
    artclam and Judy like this.

  3. #3
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    Matilde Luna was one of those workers. Luna, who has four kids and made $10.50 an hour, has worked in area fields for 25 years and at Bonipak (which merged with Betteravia Farms) for 11 years. She received health benefits and had a retirement account. Last week, she was among those called into the office and given until March 4 to produce citizenship documents. If she could not, she had to sign a letter of resignation in English, she said.
    Health benefits and an IRA. Almost unheard of in the legal working world these days.
    Judy likes this.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Judy's Avatar
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    Americans will line up to do that work if they know about the jobs.
    A Nation Without Borders Is Not A Nation - Ronald Reagan
    Save America, Deport Congress! - Judy

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  5. #5
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Judy View Post
    Americans will line up to do that work if they know about the jobs.
    You can get info and apply for jobs online from anyplace.




    Search this site:
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    Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker Outreach Program

    En español


    In the fields and beyond…Proudly serving California’s Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers

    .
    The Migrant and Seasonal Farm Worker (MSFW) Outreach Program provides services to the agricultural community statewide. The program specifically targets agricultural employers and workers classified as migrant, seasonal, or migrant food-processing workers as defined by federal law.

    Through the MSFW Outreach Program, the EDD is compliant with federal law in providing a full range of employment services to farmworkers who otherwise would not have access to services through the normal intake process within the America’s Job Center of CaliforniaSM network.

    Program Services


    As a component of the MSFW Outreach Program, EDD representatives conduct outreach in areas of high agricultural activity to provide recruitment services for employers and job seekers including but not limited to:

    • Job search assistance
    • CalJOBSSM navigation information and registration
    • General information about unemployment insurance
    • Labor market information
    • Training opportunities
    • Referral to supportive services or organizations also serving farm workers
    • Farmworker rights and labor law information


    If you are an employer or migrant or seasonal farmworker and would like further information, contact your nearest America’s Job Center of California.

    To find your nearest center, visit the job center locator, or call the America’s Service Locator toll-free at 1-877-872-5627 (TTY 1-877-889-5627).

    Monitor Advocate Office


    The EDD Monitor Advocate Office (MAO) is responsible for:

    • Overseeing the MSFW Outreach Program
    • Monitoring the program’s compliance with federal and state regulations relative to farmworker services
    • Ensuring that migrant and seasonal farmworkers receive a full range and equitable level of employment services as those offered to non-farmworkers
    • Assessing the needs of California’s agricultural workforce
    • Working collaboratively with other agencies to facilitate workforce development services, benefits, and protections according to federal law


    The Monitor Advocate Office can be contacted by calling toll-free at 1-866-289-8356.

    EDD Resources





    Additional Resources





    Contact EDD | Office Locator | Forms and Publications |Online Services | En Español
    Conditions of Use | Privacy Policy | Accessibility | Site Map
    Copyright © 2016 State of California



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    http://edd.ca.gov/
    Last edited by JohnDoe2; 03-29-2016 at 09:54 PM.
    NO AMNESTY

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  6. #6
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    Companies have been caught avoiding Americans applying for their jobs - (post is not coming up in search). It showed how they mislead, post in newspapers very far away, have pre-screening etc to avoid hiring an American but claim to be still following the criteria.
    And the plan to greatly increase visas is in the works.
    Economic Policy Institute: No evidence of labor shortages but Congress considering giving H-2B employers access to more exploitable and underpaid guestworkers


    Posted December 17, 2015 | by Ian Pajer-Rogers |



    Expanding and deregulating the H-2B visa program (a temporary foreign worker program that allows U.S. employers to hire low-wage guestworkers from abroad temporarily for seasonal, non-agricultural jobs, mostly in landscaping, forestry, seafood processing, and hospitality) has been a top goal for business groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, ImmigrationWorks USA, landscaping and seafood employers, and the Essential Worker Immigration Coalition (EWIC)—lobbyists representing employers claiming they can’t find U.S. workers willing to mow lawns, plant trees, or pick crabmeat.


    These lobbyists have never presented a credible case regarding labor shortages in H-2B jobs. But H-2B employers have spent millions of dollars on litigation, lobbying, and campaign contributions; anything it takes to keep wages from rising and to prevent their access to low-paid indentured foreign workers with few rights from ever being restricted.


    And it’s happening again. To avoid a government shutdown, Congress has to pass appropriations legislation soon to fund the entire federal government. Whenever that happens, members of Congress attempt to insert “riders,” legislative provisions tucked into appropriations bills that amend the law in substantive ways that have nothing to do with appropriations. Thanks to the aforementioned corporate lobbyists, the current 2016 fiscal year appropriations negotiations have included discussions about riders to remake the H-2B program.

    The omnibus bill introduced in the House on the evening of December 15 included riders that would: 1) vastly increase the size of the H-2B program, 2) eliminate protections that keep workers from being idled without work or pay for long periods of time, and 3) prevent U.S. workers from having a fair shot at getting hired for job openings by preventing enforcement of the rules that require employers to recruit workers already present in the United States before they can hire an H-2B worker.

    Finally—and worst of all—if the House appropriations bill becomes law it will also dramatically lower the wage rates employers are required to pay, which would permit employers to pay their H-2B workers much less than American workers employed in the same jobs and local area. Needless to say, the lower wages H-2B workers will be paid create a huge incentive to hire temporary foreign workers instead of the local U.S. workers who reside in communities where the jobs are located.


    In addition, legislation in the House and Senate has been introduced that would permanently implement these changes, including reducing H-2B wage rates, expanding the size of the H-2B program to about 200,000, and repealing all of the protections for foreign and American workers that the Obama administration just implemented in April 2015, after fighting opposition to them from corporate lobbyists and Congress for the past five years.

    http://www.iwj.org/blog/economic-pol...d-guestworkers



  7. #7
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by artist View Post
    . . . It showed how they mislead, post in newspapers very far away,
    Few employers still use newspaper ads.
    Most jobs are posted online at government employment agencies or private employment companies, where anyone can access them.
    Most public libraries have computers that people can use free to look for employment nationwide.
    Government employment offices have computers for free job searches locally, statewide and nationwide.
    NO AMNESTY

    Don't reward the criminal actions of millions of illegal aliens by giving them citizenship.


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  8. #8
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    California Farm And Ranch Jobs - Search Jobs In Agriculture
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    NO AMNESTY

    Don't reward the criminal actions of millions of illegal aliens by giving them citizenship.


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  9. #9
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    NO AMNESTY

    Don't reward the criminal actions of millions of illegal aliens by giving them citizenship.


    Sign in and post comments here.

    Please support our fight against illegal immigration by joining ALIPAC's email alerts here https://eepurl.com/cktGTn

  10. #10
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    Few employers still use newspaper ads.
    Most jobs are posted online
    There was a post @ 6 wks ago that showed in detail the "newspaper ads" run by a company that was caught avoiding hiring Americans.

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