According to a lawsuit filed last week, the U.S. Bureau of Labor is blaming an Arizona farm for keeping around 70 Mexican workers in risky and unsanitary conditions while getting low wages.
The Workers’ situation
Officials said that the owner of G Farms in El Mirage, Arizona, Santiago Gonzalez, violated the federal safety regulations when housing farmworkers in school buses and trailers with no windows.
The workers live in four yellow school buses along with two trailers. They don’t have any place to keep their stuff so they keep it in the trash-filled sleeping quarters. Both the buses and the trailers have no windows.
Kristina Espinoza, a Labor Department Investigator who lately visited and saw the farm, described the place as a “makeshift labor camp” which is “dangerous” and “unsanitary.”
The Government regulations for imported workers
The laborers were acquired under the governmentally managed H-2A visa program, which permits U.S. producers to import occasional workers from abroad. Employers who use the program are required to pay a lowest pay permitted by law set by the government and give the laborers free transportation and lodging, which must have 50 square feet of space per person for sleep.
Recently, controllers have increased investigations of the agricultural guest laborer program as employers heavily depend on it to fill workers shortage.
After agents went up against Gonzalez, he relocated the laborers to hotels. However, one of Gonzalez staffs phoned the Labor Department a week ago and said that Gonzalez was taking money from them to stay at the hotel rooms and for their nourishment and transportation.
The Bureau asked for a restraining order to oblige Gonzalez to pay laborers the minimum wage and “to ensure that these workers are kept safe from life threatening conditions.”
Labor Department’s spokesperson, Stephen Barr, refused to make any comments on the matter whilst Gonzalez didn’t comment as well.