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News Release

Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.


Employment Standards Administration

ESA Press Release: Labor Department Launches Education Campaign on Worker Rights and Child Safety on Farms and in Fields [08/12/1998]

For more information call: (202)219-8211

"Fair Harvest/Safe Harvest," an education campaign for farm workers, was launched today by Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman with executives of two agricultural businesses and leaders of farm worker organizations and child advocacy groups. This is the first time the Labor Department has developed a national educational program specifically to reach farm workers with information about their job rights and to help them teach their children to be safe around farm work.

"Farm workers are some of our most vulnerable workers," Secretary Herman said. "We want them to know that they have the right to a fair wage, to safe housing and safe transportation."

Secretary Herman was joined by William R. Johnson, president and CEO of the H.J. Heinz Co., Baldemar Velasquez, President of Farm Labor Organizing Committee, William Lee, vice president of Newman's Own Inc., and Marilyn Adams, president of Farm Safety 4 Just Kids, in making today's announcement about the campaign. All of these organizations will help distribute the education materials to growers and workers. Also participating in the information campaign are the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the National Consumers League, the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs, the United Farm Workers, Farmworker Justice Fund and the National Council of Agricultural Employers.

Through "Fair Harvest/Safe Harvest" the Labor Department and sponsoring organizations will distribute a wallet card that explains farm workers' basic rights and provides a toll-free telephone number where they may call for more information, including information on how to make complaints (1-800-959-3652). The cards will be available in English and Spanish.

"We also need to do more to keep young people safe on the farms and in fields," Herman said, citing statistics from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health that more than 100,000 young people under 20 are injured and 100 killed each year on farms of all kinds. "Too often farm worker families have no child care alternatives and bring their children with them when they are working. We produced a terrific children's book to help parents teach their children to be safe around the farm."

"We especially want children and their parents to understand the dangers from tractors and other farm equipment," Adams said. "The Department of Labor's picture book for young children will help to get that message across." Adams lost her son in a farming accident. She formed the non-profit Farm Safety 4 Just Kids to prevent farm-related childhood injuries.

The children's book will be available along with the wallet card at 150 facilities around the country that serve farm workers. The materials also are available from local offices of the Labor Department's Wage and Hour Division.

The Labor Department is sponsoring the education campaign in conjunction with its "Operation Salad Bowl" enforcement initiative that concentrates investigations of labor law compliance in onion, lettuce, cucumber, garlic and tomato crops where many violations are known to occur. The Wage and Hour Division is conducting more than 50 agricultural strike forces this year.

The Wage and Hour Division enforces the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Workers Protection Act, among other labor laws.

Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.

Employment Standards Administration
August 12, 1998
Media Contact: David Roberts
Phone Number