I SUPPORT THE FARM WORKER BILL OF RIGHTS FOR COLORADO: SB-21-087

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For almost a century, agricultural workers have been excluded from many of this country’s most important and hard-fought labor protections, including the right to organize, the right to overtime pay, and in the case of thousands of Colorado farmworkers, the right to minimum wage. The origins of these exclusions, which go back decades, are explicitly racist--originally part of an effort to exclude Black workers from the New Deal’s most important labor protections. 

Especially now, after a year in which farmworkers have suffered disproportionately from the pandemic and toiled in wildfires and extreme heat to bring food to our tables, it is essential that we close these anachronistic gaps and provide basic protections and dignity to some of the State’s most vulnerable workers. This Bill, among other things, would: 

  • Provide  basic health and safety protections during the pandemic;
  • Extend the right to organize to farmworkers; 
  • Ensure that service providers like doctors have access to farmworkers on employer provided housing; 
  • Ensure fair pay of at least the minimum wage and overtime based on rules enacted by the
  • Mandate rest breaks and other protections against overwork, especially in extreme heat; and
  • Provide powerful protections against retaliation for farmworkers who speak out about mistreatment. 

The Bill enjoys the wide support among a range of labor unions, advocacy groups, and farmers committed to ensuring basic human dignity in the industry and dismantling structural racism in Colorado. Supporters include, among others : Colorado AFL-CIO, the National Young Farmers Coalition, Project Protect Food Systems Workers, FrontLine Farming, Towards Justice, COLOR (Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights), the Hispanic Affairs Project, the Colorado Immigrants Rights Coalition, Colorado Jobs with Justice, Colorado People’s Alliance, and Conservation Colorado.

  • This bill addresses:
  • Health and safety during the pandemic, 
  • Right to organize; protection for concerted action; retaliation prohibition
  • Right to access health workers, promotoras, legal advocates, consular representatives, and other advocates or key service providers 
  • Housing safety
  • Fair pay and minimum wage
  • Rest breaks & extreme overwork protections
  • Immediate prohibition of short handled hoe
  • Robust enforcement mechanisms

This timely and important bill represents a major step toward dismantling structural racism in Colorado by correcting long-standing, racially motivated exclusions of agricultural workers from state labor and employment laws.  Agricultural workers -- who have labored tirelessly through the COVID-19 pandemic, wildfires, and extreme heat so that we can all have food to eat -- are essential and must be treated as such. 

We ask that you support the bill by sharing signing and sharing this petition. Thank you. PPFS