Editor,

I’m an advocate for the poor and working class families. The work is a labor of love but also one that needs to be done. Those of us out in the trenches can share untold stories of the harassment, physical abuse, and many other forms of oppression from farmers and those who support their interests.

I found that the ag and dairy industries want to expand slave labor disguised as a guest worker program. The workers under this program usually don’t know their rights or the English language. There are no work safeguards or guarantees to incidents of abuse. This is, for them, “Making America Great Again.”

Recently, I was in a meeting with several farm labor contractors in which just this past year they lost their contracts with the ranchers and packing houses. None of the contractors knew who underbid them but they all had crews of non-guest workers ready to work. “This is a violation of labor code,” said one of the contractors when I pointed out that I just came in contact with four large school buses, full of H2A guest workers, on my way to the meeting located in Tulare County.

In 1964 the federal government ended the braceros program due to the inhuman treatment the farmworkers received from those who benefited from their exploitation. After many failed attempts at organizing a farmworker union, ending the guest-worker program known as the bracero program, allowed the farmworkers to finally organize. In 1965, what would be known as the farmworker and Chicano movement began and brought millions of raza together demanding social justice.

Today, the agricultural and dairy industries are attempting to reset public opinion by fabricating that there is a labor shortage. I find it hard to prove that there in fact is a labor shortage, for example Tulare County, unemployment rate is 12.2 percent. An expansion of the H2A program will effectively prevent farmworkers from organizing and maintain safe working conditions. California making the farmworker overtime bill into law only adds to the list of the financial benefits this industry gains by hiring guest workers.

“The industries’ political influence in government is effective by electing their candidates to do their bidding,” states Ruben Macareno, candidate for AD 26 in 2016. This area has worst air quality in the country due mainly to unimaginable amounts of pesticides used in and around communities. Of those who are negatively affected by pesticide use are 91 percent Hispanic, states California for Pesticide Reform. As well as being ground zero in poisoned water due to the industries’ practices, not much has been done to stop it and the taxpayers are being left to pick up the bill. Many communities are forced to buy or beg for bottled water.

The industries and there association such as the Farm Bureau, invested millions in ensuring they had a seat at the White House table. Take note that the only place in California, Trump visited during his campaign, was with the ag and dairy leaders.

Congressman Devin Nunes’ weak congressional record is not one would think would get the attention of a newly elected President, but that of his relationship with big ag.

Many residents that live in Congressman Nunes’ district strongly believe the reason Nunes has shamefully refused to investigate Trump’s Russian ties, is because of his secret deal with Trump. As one dairyman stated, “Well, what he told us is that the wall is going to have a door.”

Arturo Rodriguez

Poplar

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