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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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News Release

WHD News Release: [02/17/2011]
Contact Name: Jose A. Carnevali or Deanne Amaden
Phone Number: (415) 625-2631 or x2631
Release Number: 11-0196-SAN

US Labor Department fines Pescadero, Calif., agricultural employer and requires payment of more than $35,000 in back wages to migrant workers

Investigators find safety and health violations at farmworker housing camps

SAN FRANCISCO — A Pescadero, Calif.-based agricultural employer has paid $35,710 in back wages owed to 93 workers and $10,012 in civil money penalties to the government after an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division found that the company failed to properly pay its workers and violated federal housing, safety and health regulations.

Pete Marchi & Sons Inc., doing business as Marchi Central Farms and Marchi Ranch, is a private company that recruits migrant and seasonal workers for agricultural employment. It is owned and operated by Natalino Marchi and his sons, Pete and Gerald Marchi.

"These migrant employees worked as many as 60 hours per week weeding, harvesting and packing beans, broccoli, leeks and brussels sprouts. In return for their hard work, they were denied fair wages and forced to live in substandard housing camps," said George Friday Jr., administrator of the Wage and Hour Division's Western Region. "We are committed to ensuring that all workers, especially vulnerable ones such as migrant and seasonal workers, are fully compensated for all hours of their labor, and are adequately informed about the terms and conditions of their employment as required by law."

After conducting employee interviews, inspecting the housing camp, and reviewing time and payroll records, investigators from the Wage and Hour Division's San Francisco District Office found that Marchi Central Farms and its owners violated several regulations governing the conditions of housing camps required for migrant and seasonal farmworkers. The Labor Department cited the employers for failing to provide adequate heating, plumbing and kitchen facilities; allowing overcrowding in rooms where workers slept; failing to repair or replace missing, torn or broken screens; and failing to provide laundry facilities in some units.

Furthermore, Marchi Central Farms failed to disclose the terms and conditions of employment to its workers, as required under the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act. Investigators also discovered that workers were made to purchase work-related equipment such as boots and rain gear needed for harvesting, and several workers had rent and utility charges for employer-provided housing illegally deducted from their wages.

The MSPA provides employment-related protections to migrant and seasonal agricultural workers and is enforced by the Wage and Hour Division. For more information, call the division's toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or its San Francisco office at 415-625-7720. Information is also available on the Internet at www.dol.gov/whd.