Please note: As of January 20, 2017, information in some news releases may be out of date or not reflect current policies.
Department of Labor moves to revoke Central Valley labor contractor’s certification in wake of farm workers’ deaths
SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Department of Labor has taken action to take away a Central Valley labor contractor’s permit to provide agricultural workers to local growers following a series of safety violations that culminated in 2015 with a vehicle accident that killed four farmworkers.
The department’s Wage and Hour Division is working to revoke the farm labor contractor certificate issued to C.A.T. Labor Services, and its owner Cecilio Arredondo Terrazas, for failing to comply with the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, which requires contractors who transport farmworkers to and from job sites to meet prescribed safety requirements. In January 2015, four passengers in a minivan were killed in a collision with a tractor trailer near Fresno. The van driver was a C.A.T. foreman carrying farmworkers employed by C.A.T. None of those who died were wearing seatbelts.
“C.A.T. Labor Services’ continued negligence and failure to follow basic safety requirements led to four deaths and countless others being put at risk,” said Wage and Hour Regional Administrator Ruben Rosalez. “The life of a migrant farmworker is already difficult. Tragedies like this one – which devastated the families of these hardworking men and their communities – are avoidable by following basic safety rules and requirements. The Wage and Hour Division is committed to making that happen.”
Based in Reedley, C.A.T. has a history of federal violations. In 2011, division officials cited the company for failing to meet basic transportation safety requirements for transporting farmworkers, including failing to require valid driver’s licenses for drivers, failing to obtain minimum levels of required vehicle insurance and other related violations. The agency also found C.A.T. found in violation of other MSPA requirements in 2008. In both instances, C.A.T. paid fines and back wages and agreed to comply with the MSPA provisions in the future.
Agricultural contractors must apply to the U.S. Department of Labor for a Certificate of Registration before performing any “farm labor contracting activities,” which authorizes them to provide those services. Persons employed by farm labor contractors to perform such these activities must register with the department. The department maintains a list of individuals or corporations that have had their authorizations as farm labor contractors revoked.
The Wage and Hour Division is responsible for enforcing transportation protections under the MSPA, including requiring farmers and their contractors to obtain proper insurance, have vehicles inspected, and ensure other driver qualifications and basic safety measures. The department can fine growers, packer/shippers, or farm labor contractors for failing to ensure safe transportation.
C.A.T. has the option to appeal the department’s findings and request a hearing on the matter. For more information about federal wage laws administered by the Wage and Hour Division, call the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information also is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd/.