In a meeting with the Roberto Campa Cifrián on Tuesday, the Secretary of Labor of Mexico, FLOC President Velasquez pushed the Mexican Department of Labor to work with FLOC in achieving a common interest of protecting Mexican workers. Historically, Mexican workers who come to the US to work in the fields through the H2A guest worker program have been exploited in the workplace and excluded from most laws that protect the rest of the US workforce. Velasquez explained the harmful impacts of this lack of parity by detailing abuses that Mexican farmworkers face in the US including widespread wage theft, sexual harassment, and dangerous working conditions among others.
In the context of Trump’s anti-worker administration and harmful immigration proposals like the Goodlatte Bill, Velasquez stressed the need for Mexico to defend their own citizens. Velasquez suggested that the Mexico government use the NAFTA renegotiations to push for the expansion of the Agricultural Worker Protections Act (AWPA) to include H2A guest workers. AWPA is the principal federal law that provides federal protections around the wages, housing, transportation and working conditions of US agricultural workers but currently excludes H2A guest workers from its protections and remedies. If AWPA covered the H2A program, it would be an additional tool that labor organizations could use to stop the abuses in the H2A program, which has expanded rapidly to more than 200,000 agricultural workers in 2017, the majority of whom are Mexican citizens.
During the meeting, Roberto Campa Cifrián committed to promoting actions and policies to stop the exploitation of agricultural workers and stated that he was confident that they could advance protections for workers. Campa requested another meeting this summer to give a report back on the progress that has been made.
“We are grateful for Campa taking the time to meet with us. We look forward to our next meeting this summer to hear what progress has been made and to continue building a collaborative relationship with the Mexican government to achieve our common goal of protecting Mexican workers.” Said President Velasquez.