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After Decades of Discrimination, Farm Workers Get Pesticide Protections

(COMMON DREAMS) Nadia Prupis — Farm workers will now have sweeping new protections from pesticides under new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules announced Monday—safeguards which labor leaders say eluded farm workers for decades due to racial discrimination.

The new rules, announced by EPA administrator Gina McCarthy, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, and United Farm Workers (UFW) president Arturo Rodriguez, include the following stipulations:

  • All pesticide applicators will be required to be at least 18 years old, rather than 16;
  • Whistleblower protections, including for undocumented workers, must be implemented so that farm laborers can safely file complaints over workplace abuse;
  • Workers or their representatives must be allowed easy access to records involving hazardous chemical exposure.

The full list of regulations can be found at the EPA website.

“Farm workers deserve to be healthy and safe while they earn a living,” McCarthy said on a press call Monday. “We will not turn our backs on the people who help feed this nation.”

As United Farm Workers (UFW) president Arturo Rodriguez explained, “Racism forced farm workers to be excluded from major federal labor laws since the 1930s, when some members of Congress made it very clear they didn’t want black or brown farm workers to enjoy the same rights and protections as white workers. That discrimination continued when farm workers were exempted from pesticide protections first issued for all other U.S. workers in the 1970s by the Labor Department.”

Source: After Decades of Discrimination, Farm Workers Get Pesticide Protections | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community