Mar 22, 2019  |  VIEW IN BROWSER


From the Desk of the President

A Note from AFOP President Jeffrey Lewis on Why AFOP Health & Safety Programs Matter

Many AFOP members provide not only job training to farmworkers through DOL’s National Farmworker Jobs Program (NFJP), but also critical pesticide safety training, the long-sleeve shirt drive, Heat Stress Training, and more, through AFOP’s National Farmworker Training Program (NFTP). 
What are the benefits of participating in NFTP?  In the PathStone programs I am responsible for, the answer is four-fold.
1.       Staff training - AFOP trains the staff (called “train-the-trainer”) who will be conducting the health and safety trainings in our state.  In our case, many are outreach staff and former participants.  This training comes free of charge.
2.       Farmworkers and their families – Farmworkers benefit by learning how to reduce pesticide exposure and residue hazards.  Farmworkers and families also benefit from the long-sleeve shirt drive, when we distribute the shirts at our Farmworker Appreciation initiatives.  PathStone often has picnics with farm-donated foods, music, and soccer matches with farm-sponsored teams.
3.       Growers - The training services directly impact growers, enabling them to meet their responsibility to provide training every 12 months.  PathStone works together with employers to ease access issues and improve the quality of life for those families and singles living in on-farm housing.  We provide a valuable service to employers, families, and the staff who are required to meet enrollment goals. 
4.       PathStone and other AFOP members benefit because we are able to expand our outreach efforts to Agriculture Employers and lay the groundwork for agricultural job upgrades.   In addition, we are able to use the resources generated by NFTP to facilitate additional training and services for Farmworkers and families.
In short, AFOP is a contributing partner to the success of NFJP staff and program outreach, and improved community understanding of the dangers associated with working in the fields. As with all of the choices you make, it is your level of commitment to the success of these programs that continues to keep them available.

From the Desk of the Executive Director

Daniel Sheehan, AFOP Executive Director

March 15, 2019

Things remain busy here in Washington, D.C. as Congress and the administration battle it out over priorities.  As you couldn’t miss hearing, the longstanding partial federal government shutdown ended when the president agreed to a final spending package that did not fund a wall on the southern border with Mexico.  Undeterred, he then declared a national emergency to secure him the authority to redirect federal spending, most notably monies for military construction inside the United States, to wall construction.  The United States House of Representatives moved quickly to disapprove that declaration, and the United States Senate followed suit yesterday, with 12 Republican senators voting for the resolution.  The president has said he will veto the resolution, meaning that the courts will now grapple with the question.  Stay tuned!
Meanwhile, the work of Washington and of AFOP goes on.  Please see below the following update on our efforts in support of NFJP and its 52 grantees and where we think things are going.  No one has a crystal ball, so what we think lies ahead may change dramatically in the coming weeks.  That said, at a very minimum, Congress must pass and the president must enact legislation to keep the federal government funded.  It could be winter again before this happens, but hope always springs eternal.
President Releases Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Summary.  Earlier this week, the president released summary material of his fiscal year 2020 budget proposal.  The White House will not provide actual line-item detail until next week.  While we will have to wait until then to know the president’s plan for the National Farmworker Jobs Program, we are told by those in the know that he will once again call on Congress to terminate the program.  Meanwhile, as signaled by the president’s Office of Management and Budget director recently, the budget would make extreme, deep cuts in non-defense discretionary spending and plus up defense to the tune of approximately $175 billion above current funding to $750 billion.  It is important to remember, though, that the president’s budget is only a guide for Congress to use in crafting its own budget resolution (that does not require the president’s signature) and the yearly appropriations bills.  Nevertheless, the nation’s anti-poverty organizations are voicing strong opposition to the president’s plans and are mobilizing against it. 
Top Senate Appropriations Staff Insights.  In the last few weeks, we have had the good fortune to talk separately with full Senate Appropriations Committee staff director and her counterpart on the Democratic staff about the success of and continuing need for NFJP.  On overall spending, both said that a new budget-cap agreement will be needed to move fiscal year 2020 spending bills.  With the last budget deal now expired, and spending caps set to drop to levels set under the Budget Control Act of 2011, we learned that Senate Appropriations Chairman Dick Shelby (R-Alabama) will write bills that adhere to those lower caps.  His staff director added that, if Congress does agree to a budget-cap deal sometime last this year, we should expect only flat funding at fiscal year 2019 levels.  Painting an even bleaker picture, her Democratic colleague added that new spending needs in the non-defense arena – such as increased appropriations for the 2020 census and for Veterans Affairs needs – the reduction in domestic accounts is even greater.  He also stated that he thinks we will not see a budget deal until later this year, perhaps paired with legislation to increase the nation’s debt ceiling.  He encouraged all anti-poverty advocates to push hard for another two-year budget cap deal.  “We must have a deal so we can have higher numbers in 2021 and not at the sequester-lowered cap amount,” he said.
“Fairness for Farm Workers Act” Would Grant Farmworkers Overtime Pay.  Farmworker Justice reported recently that Senator Kamala Harris (D-California) and Representative Raúl Grijalva (D-Arizona) have introduced the “Fairness for Farm Workers Act of 2019,” S. 385/H.R. 1080.  The bill would address the discriminatory treatment of farmworkers under the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by extending overtime protections to farmworkers and removing many of the remaining minimum wage exclusions still applicable to agricultural work.  Under the legislation, people working in agriculture would eventually be entitled to time-and-a-half pay for working more than 40 hours in a week.  Farmworker Justice urges support for this important legislation.  See here for more information:
DOL Proposes Revised Overtime Rule.  Last week, DOL announced a proposed rule that would make more than a million more American workers eligible for overtime.  Under current enforced law, employees with a salary below $455 per week ($23,660 annually) must be paid overtime if they work more than 40 hours per week.  Workers making at least this salary level may be eligible for overtime based on their job duties.  This salary level was set in 2004.  This proposal, which scaled back an Obama-era initiative, would boost the proposed standard salary level to $679 per week (equivalent to $35,308 per year).  Above this salary level, eligibility for overtime varies based on job duties.  Please see the DOL Wage & Hour webpage here.
Dream Act Re-introduced.  Earlier this week, Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-California) introduced a new and improved DREAM Act that will not only help Dreamers, but also include temporary protected status and deferred departure provisions.  Cosponsoring the legislation are Yvette Clarke (D-New York) and Nydia Velázquez (D-New York).  The most expansive Dreamer bill yet, it will not carry any public-charge restrictions or wealth tests.  The congresswoman hopes the measure will move through committee either March 26 or in early April. 
Agriculture Secretary Still Seeking to Scale Back Important USDA Office.  Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is once again mounting an effort to scale back the department’s important Economic Research Service, which conducts nutrition research, program evaluation for nutrition programs like SNAP and WIC, and assesses the extent of farm labor across the nation.  Many of anti-poverty organizations – especially those concerned about lack of and poor nutrition in the country – are asking groups and individuals to soon sign onto a letter asking the USDA funding subcommittees to block the secretary’s plans, as it did in the fiscal year 2019 spending bill.  We will be sure to look at it and seek member input, if necessary, in regard placing AFOP on the letter. 
AFOP Long-Sleeve Shirt Drive.  AFOP is once again conducting the extremely popular and hyper-competitive long-sleeve shirt drive to collect shirts for donation to farmworkers.  So, you’d better get planning: the contest is during the National Farmworker Awareness Week, March 24-31.  Contact AFOP’s Kendra Moesle for details:  Good luck!

Inside AFOP

Central Valley Opportunity Center NFJP Success Story – Blanca

Blanca was unemployed and only had worked intermittently doing warehouse production and nursery work; she wanted more.  She wanted to learn marketable skills that could be applied in the current workforce and that would provide service and benefits to her community. 
Blanca Mendoza came to CVOC in late 2017 seeking job training that would help her enter the workforce and provide quality service to an employer.  With the help of CVOC staff members, Blanca enrolled in CVOC’s General Business Occupations training program. 
[Read More]

South Dakota Hosts Second Human Trafficking Awareness Conference

AFOP member and NFJP operator Black Hills Special Services Cooperative held its second Human Trafficking Awareness Conference March 7-8 in Pierre.  South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem spoke at the event.  Although slavery is commonly thought to be a thing of the past, human traffickers generate hundreds of billions of dollars in profits by trapping millions of people in horrific situations around the world, including farmworkers in South Dakota.
USDOL acknowledged the honor it was for South Dakota’s Black Hill Special Services Cooperative to have Governor Noem speak at its conference.  Department officials thanked the Cooperative for working hard to elevate this important issue, and for providing a space where communities could come together to learn and collaborate on combatting human trafficking. 

[Read More]

Click here to view the conference booklet

Eloy Salazar, Longtime Chief of Illinois Migrant Council, Passes Away at Age 67


Eloy Salazar, a MAFO board member since 1985, passed away on January 24 at his home surrounded by family.  He was 67.  Eloy was known for his melodic mariachi voice, his love of the guitar, and his wonderful sense of humor.

Read MAFO’s tribute here

PathStone Pays Tribute to Dr. Karen Noble Hanson

PathStone paid a heartfelt tribute to Dr. Karen Noble Hanson at its March 16 board meeting.  Dr. Hanson (formally Karen Tobin) was one of PathStone's most revered and visionary leaders.  Under Karen's leadership, PathStone expanded its geographic reach throughout New York State, increased staff from five to over 100, and developed an annual budget of more than $4 million. Sadly, Dr. Hanson passed away on November 7, 2018.

[Read More]

AFOP Health & Safety

Health & Safety Promotes Annual Long Sleeve Shirt Drive

AFOP Health & Safety Programs is once again promoting its annual Long Sleeve Shirt Drive as part of National Farmworker Awareness Week (NFAW).  NFAW is a week of action for communities to bring attention to the multiple challenges farmworkers face, as well as to shed light on and bring honor to the important contributions farmworkers make to our daily lives.  We celebrate this week because:
  • Farmworkers feed the world
  • Farmwork is one of the most dangerous jobs in the U.S.
  • Farmworkers are treated differently under the law, even though they deserve the same rights and protections
For more information on the Long Sleeve Shirt Drive and how you can participate, visit

Making it Count: An Update on the 2020 Census Citizenship Question And Why It Matters to Farmworker Families

AFOP Health & Safety Blog

The U.S. Department of Commerce is doggedly pursuing its goal of adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census questionnaire.  Meanwhile, dozens of lawsuits have been filed in various states to challenge that course of action.  To date, one of those cases has been decided, at least two are still being tried, and many others are in the process of being taken up in a court of law.  The Supreme Court is scheduled to consider oral arguments on the issue sometime in April.
[Read More]

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Looking for Participation from Minority Communities

The NIH’s ‘All of Us’ Research Program is a historic effort to gather data from one million or more people living in the United States to accelerate research and improve health. By taking into account individual differences in lifestyle, environment, and biology, researchers will uncover paths toward delivering precision medicine."
See the website for more information:

Inside the United States Department of Labor

Amanda Ahlstrand, OWI Administrator, Leaves USDOL

Amanda Ahlstrand left her position of Administrator for the Office of Workforce Investment (OWI) March 1st.  Amanda served as the Acting Administrator for the office starting in October 2011 and became the Administrator in December 2013. She has been an important ally of farmworkers as well as all individuals in the workforce who are fighting to get ahead. 
Daniel Sheehan, Executive Director at AFOP, sent a note of farewell to Ms. Ahlstrand on her last day: “This is such a bittersweet moment. Thank you, thank you for always doing what you could to support the nation’s farmworkers.  I know that I speak for the entire AFOP membership when I say that we wish you the very best in all your future endeavors and hope that our paths cross soon and often.”

[Read More]

New Overtime Proposal

The Department has proposed a rule that would make more than a million more American workers eligible for overtime.  Under currently enforced law, employees with a salary below $455 per week ($23,660 annually) must be paid overtime if they work more than 40 hours per week. The new proposal would boost the standard salary level to $679 per week (equivalent to $35,308 per year).

[Read More]

WorkforceGPS Releases March 2019 Newsletter


Spring is around the corner, and in that vein, we are pleased this month to highlight some of the “grassroots” initiatives that are happening across the nation’s public workforce system.  Just like nature, some of these initiatives are homegrown from seed, while others are hybrid versions of various ideas “borrowed,” tweaked, and replanted from others.

[Read More]

U.S. Department of Labor Forms Alliance with Agribusiness Organizations to Protect Workers in Agricultural Industry

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) today formed an alliance with The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) and the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) to provide training resources and information on protecting the health, safety, and security of workers, emergency responders, and communities surrounding establishments in the agricultural retail and supply industry.

[Read More]

USDOL Participates in National Workforce Development Discussion

Labor Secretary Acosta joined President Donald J. Trump and more than 40 of our nation's governors at the White House to discuss workforce development initiatives that will help more Americans secure good, safe, family-sustaining careers - including expanding apprenticeship opportunities and helping incarcerated individuals successfully transition into the workforce.

[Read More]

Hill Happenings

PRIA Signed into Law


President Trump signed into law S.483, the Pesticide Registration Improvement Extension Act of 2018, also known as PRIA. This newest version of PRIA passed unanimously in the House and the Senate. It provides the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with more resources to evaluate pesticide registrations and ensures the preservation of two rules that are vital to the protection of workers and consumers who are exposed to pesticides in agricultural, residential, and commercial settings: the Agricultural Worker Protection Standard (WPS) and the Certification of Pesticide Applicators (CPA) rule.

[Read More]

Farmworkers in the News

Farmworker vs Robot

AFOP Arranging for Speaker on AI at 2019 National Conference

Washington Post

Designing a robot with a gentle touch is among the biggest technical obstacles to automating the American farm. Reasonably priced fruits and vegetables are at risk without it, growers say, because of a dwindling pool of workers.
“The labor force keeps shrinking,” said Gary Wishnatzki, a third-generation strawberry farmer. “If we don’t solve this with automation, fresh fruits and veggies won’t be affordable or even available to the average person.”
Labor groups also doubt robots are prepared for the job.  “A machine cannot harvest delicate table grapes, strawberries or tree fruit without destroying the perfect presentation demanded by consumers and the retail food industry,” said Giev Kashkooli, political and legislative director for the United Farm Workers of America, which represents about 20,000 farmworkers across the country.  “Robotics can play a role in making the job less backbreaking and play a role in helping people earn more money,” he said.
To further explore this question, AFOP is inviting a speaker to present at its national conference in Milwaukee on the expanding technological revolution on America’s farms, as well as the impact that may have on farmworkers and the National Farmworker Jobs Program.
[Read More]

With Fewer Undocumented Workers to Hire, U.S. Farmers are Fueling a Surge in the Number of Legal Guest Workers

Washington Post

The number of people crossing into the United States illegally is nearing the lowest level in decades. There are more Mexicans leaving the United States than arriving there.  For the White House, that might be a triumph. But for the agriculture industry, the impact is acute. Each year, its labor force dwindles.
[Read More]

Letter to the Editor:  What Trump Really Said About Foreign Farmworkers

Bruce Goldstein, President of Farmworker Justice

President Trump’s brief comments about immigration policy in his recent speech to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s convention are cause for great concern.  When saying he will “actually make it easier” to hire foreign workers, he was not referring to granting immigration status to undocumented farmworkers or future farmworkers from abroad. He was referring to easing the requirements of the H-2A temporary foreign agricultural worker program, which allows agricultural employers with a labor shortage to hire foreign citizens on temporary, nonimmigrant work visas.

[Read More]


Language Access Has Life-or-Death Consequences for Migrants

Center for American Progress

In December 2018, two children from indigenous Maya communities in Guatemala died while in U.S. Border Patrol custody. DHS officials immediately tried to shift the blame to the children’s parents for failing to notify Border Patrol agents about the children’s need for medical care or declining medical attention without acknowledging that both families speak indigenous languages.

[Read More]
NIF Launches Interactive Map to Help Immigrants and Job-Seekers

The National Immigration Forum’s “Map to Success” is an interactive tool, providing immigrants and other workers with information on select career paths in the U.S. The map lists jobs with the greatest shortages in states with large immigrant populations, highlighting occupations with potential for career advancement. 
To learn more, click here:

Poverty in the US

6 Ways the 2017 Tax Law Hurts Low- and Moderate-Income Households

Hits Dreamer Children Hard
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

The 2017 tax law is fundamentally flawed and largely left behind low- and moderate-income Americans, CBPP’s Chye-Ching Huang told the House Budget Committee recently. As she explained, the law doesn’t address the economic challenges that low- and moderate-income people face, and it includes provisions that will hurt many of them.
[Read More]

What We’re Reading

Trump Budget: Non-Defense Discretionary Cuts Almost Twice as Big as the Budget Says

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

The President’s budget proposes to cut 2020 funding for non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs — a broad category that includes everything from education to veterans’ medical care, housing assistance, international affairs, and environmental protection — by 9 percent, or nearly twice as much as the 5 percent that the Administration says (as we explain below). The cuts are 11 percent in inflation-adjusted terms.
[Read More]

New Budget Deal Needed to Avert Cuts, Invest in National Priorities

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Without an agreement, Non-Discretionary programs on average would have to be cut 11 percent in 2020 after adjusting for inflation. Defense would be cut deeply as well: $71 billion below the 2019 level, which after accounting for inflation would mean a 13 percent cut, on average, for defense programs.”

[Read More]

National Skills Coalition Says President’s Budget Proposal Skimps on Workforce Investments

While Details Not Yet Released, Proposal to Zero out NFJP, as Anticipated
National Skills Coalition

After two decades of cuts to skills training programs, the President’s proposed budget for workforce and education programs falls short. This administration has made skills training and workforce development a high profile issue – but the enthusiasm has not been matched with the kind of robust investments workers and businesses need to compete in today’s economy. 

[Read More]

Trump's Secret to Victory in 2020: Hispanic Voters


When President Donald Trump tweeted on January 20 that he had reached 50 percent approval among Hispanic-Americans, most fair-minded observers reacted with skepticism, if not outright disbelief. Trump was, after all, still the same man who announced his candidacy by accusing Mexico of sending “rapists” across the border, the same man who ordered refugee children separated from their parents, the same man who has made building a wall to shut out migrants the focal point of his presidency. Now recent polls suggest the president might have been onto something—and that Democrats should be worried that Hispanic voters could help reelect Trump and keep the Senate in Republican control.

[Read More]

Baby Boomers Upend the Workforce One Last Time

Washington Post

In the next five years, almost three-quarters of the companies surveyed in 2018 by Willis Towers Watson, a risk-management and insurance brokerage company, expect to face significant or moderate challenges from late retirements. But because nothing is predictable, a significant share is also worried about early ones.
[Read More]
The AFOP Washington Newsline (ISSN# 1056-8565) is produced by the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs (AFOP), a national federation of agencies serving migrant and seasonal farmworkers. AFOP’s mission is to improve the quality of life for migrant and seasonal farmworkers and their families by providing advocacy for the member organizations that serve them.

The publication is funded by subscriptions and the members of AFOP. The Washington Newsline receives no financial support from the federal government. Staff may be reached by calling (202) 384-1754.
Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs

1120 20th Street, N.W. |  Suite 300 South
Washington, D.C. 20036

Phone: (202) 384-1754

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