Sept 18, 2020  |  VIEW IN BROWSER


Inside AFOP

From the Desk of the Executive Director

Daniel Sheehan, AFOP Executive Director

Sept 16, 2020

Congress is back from its August recess and has precious few days left to take action to prevent a partial federal government shutdown come October 1.  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) has agreed to move a “clean” continuing resolution (CR) – and by clean she means without controversial add-ons – to extend current government spending beyond its expiration at month’s end.  The hope is that the House will approve the CR by early next week followed by prompt action in the Senate.  Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has said the White House will support the stopgap measure.  We still have no word on how long the CR will run, but most think it will go until early December. 
Enactment of a CR into December will give lawmakers time to finish spending bills for the fiscal year that begins October 1.  How Congress completes that work will depend on the November federal election results.  AFOP is working hard to ensure that the $4 million increase for the National Farmworker Jobs Program (NFJP) the House approved remains in the final negotiated Labor-Health and Human Services-Education spending bill. 
Meanwhile, hopes have dimmed somewhat for timely action on additional coronavirus pandemic relief.  The House passed its $3.4 trillion HEROES Act in May that would, among many other things, increase NFJP by $25 million and provide an additional $20.2 million for migrant and seasonal farmworker youth services.  The Senate recently failed to win passage on a much smaller relief package and seems to have given up on additional coronavirus relief legislation until after the election.  Human-needs advocates are not about that happen, though, and are mounting a large grassroots push to persuade Senate leaders to return to the negotiating table to forge a genuine, serious response and recovery measure that can pass Congress and be enacted into law by the president. 
In closing, I want to take this moment to salute the farmworker-service organizations that won NFJP grants last month to work in behalf of the nation’s agricultural laborers and their families.  That selection reflects the excellent, untiring work those agencies perform every day for farmworkers and their children to help them make better lives for themselves and better futures.  That is why NFJP is one of the, if not the, highest performing career-services program at the United States Department of Labor, year in and year out, despite all the obstacles the organizations and their program participants face.  I know I speak for the entire AFOP staff when I say we are honored to be of service to you in Washington, D.C.

NFJP Teen Thrives in Academics and Community Leadership Despite Pandemic Setbacks

Telamon Corporation

Yadira Paz Martinez learned about Telamon-TRC and the National Farmworker Job Program (NFJP) through an outreach event at Sampson Community College in Clinton, North Carolina.  A dependent of farmworkers, her mother worked long hours in a hog nursery for several years.  During her assessment at Telamon’s Workforce and Career Services office in Dunn, N.C., her case manager recognized that Yadira was an upstanding and ambitious student.  Not only did Yadira tutor at her high school, she also tutored at Sampson Community College where was she was taking early college courses.  Prior to Covid-19, she demonstrated leadership in numerous after-school programs, such as Student Government Association, Key Club, Beta Club, Rotary Youth Leadership Awards Program, and the Migrant Education Program.  Plus, Yadira volunteered at a local nursing home and food banquets, donating items to monthly food pantry collections.  She was on her way to a successful future. 
In 2020, Yadira was accepted into the Governor’s School of North Carolina, a competitive and rigorous residential summer program for gifted and talented high school students from across the state.  When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Yadira was forced to adapt quickly to a different way of schooling and working.  Her mother was unable to work due to being quarantined, resulting in a financial hardship for the family.  Since Yadira was no longer able to tutor students, she pursued part-time work as a cashier at the local grocery store.  Even though the N.C. Governors Summer Program was eventually cancelled, Yadira maintained a 3.9 grade point average at Union High School and finished her first year with Sampson Community College.  Her resilient spirit proved that nothing would set her back.
In May of 2020, Yadira’s case manager nominated Yadira for two awards: LatinxED’s North Carolina 20 Under 20 and 2020 Governor’s NCWorks Awards of Distinction for Outstanding Teen.  Due to Yadira’s amazing achievements, she won both awards!  A senior in high school, she will graduate in May 2021 with a high school diploma and an associate degree.  She aspires to obtain a bachelor’s degree in political science and economics at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill or Duke University in the fall of 2021.  Yadira’s persistence, hard work and leadership is an example to teens all over the country!
Said, Yadira, "Thank you, Telamon, for enrolling me in NFJP and for nominating me for the 20 under 20 LatinxED and the Governor's NCWorks Award for Outstanding Teen.  Without your support, this would not have been possible.  In spite 2020's setbacks with the coronavirus pandemic, I can't wait to see what my future holds!"

South Bend Woman Mobilizes Her Church to Help Farmworkers

South Bend Tribune

Olga Jimenez has had to field her share of questions recently from her two daughters about the news they see on television. 

The girls “are like, ‘Mom, why are we always hearing bad news?’”
Jimenez says. “’Everything seems like bad news and we want to hear some good news.’  “If that doesn’t get you, what will?” 

Jimenez has come to realize that even at a young age, Aline, 9, and Alani, 6, understand they live in a troubled world. So, she and her husband, Mauricio, want to ensure their children see and are involved in examples of goodness.

For Olga Jimenez, that revolves around doing missionary work at her church, South Bend Hispanic Seventh Day Adventist Church.  Jimenez, 33, has been attending the church since she was 8 and has been among the members spreading goodness throughout the community.  A couple of weeks ago, Jimenez got a chance to take her good works beyond her community after watching videos and pictures posted on Facebook by Jesusa Rivera.  Rivera works in South Bend for Proteus, a federally funded agency that supports and advocates for migrant farmworkers.  Read more.

Idaho Immigrant Resource Alliance Seeking Funds to Help Farmworkers

Community Council of Idaho

The Idaho Immigrant Resource Alliance (IIRA) recognizes that the Coronavirus pandemic has not improved.  As so many know, the infection rate and numbers have increased.  Our agricultural and immigrant communities have had a higher rate of contracting this virus at an alarming rate.  Entire families have had to quarantine because of contraction or possible exposure.  Many families have had a hard time surviving due to loss of wages, hours, and or jobs due to the virus.  Many can no longer afford to provide essential needs for their families, something that they were able to do through their hard work.
Our alliance is here to assist those who have been excluded from the CARES act due to their immigration status.  We have seen many of these people who have continued to work tirelessly to provide food for our country at the risk of contracting and possibly exposing their families.  IIRA has been providing some PPE thanks to the gracious donations of people in our communities, but our goal of providing financial assistance has not been met yet.  We are asking for your help, for your donations once again.  The generous contributions and donations that have been given to IIRA will help these families.  Any amount you are willing to donate will have a substantial and positive impact on Idaho’s agricultural and immigrant communities.  Thank you all for giving to this important cause in Idaho.  Help here.

See video here:

California Human Development Selects New CEO

California Human Development

California Human Development (CHD), a leader in the War on Poverty serving farmworkers and low-income populations for over 50 years, announced that the Board of Directors have appointed Thomas Stuebner as CHD's new Chief Executive Officer.  Mr. Stuebner was chosen to lead CHD after an extensive search of more than 100 candidates.  The entire Board of Directors noted that they, “found his experience, background, vision, and passion to be the perfect fit for CHD to eagerly uphold our mission and to ensure growth and sustainability for many years to come.”  Mr. Stuebner began his desire to serve those in need first as a Peace Corps volunteer working in Nepal with underserved communities.  From there he went on to lead international tuberculosis programs and continued into consulting non-profits and governments with his expertise in health systems and human services as well as the development of public and private partnerships.  With over 35 years of experience coupled with a Master of Science in Public Health and Bachelor of Business Administration, CHD is excited and confident that he will inspire and vitalize the role with the communities and clients we serve. Read more.

Proteus’s Alcivar Named to Class of 2020, Forty under 40

Proteus, Incorporated

Congratulations to Johnny Alciver, workforce program director at Proteus, for being named to the Business Record’s Forty Under 40 class. He responded to interview questions. Watch his responses here. Read More.
Celebrating Hard-Working Parents
Kendra Moesle, AFOP Programs Communication Coordinator
September 16 is National Working Parents Day: a day for paying tribute to those parents who work to provide for their family (whether that work is paid or unpaid!!).
To us, farmworker moms and dads are the epitome of the working parent.  They labor SO hard to provide for their family – from sun-up to sundown, pinching pennies to make ends meet, never having the option to call in sick.  And even in these coronavirus times when work looks different than it used to for many folks, for farmworker parents, the workday itself has not changed that much.  Farmworkers still get up and go to work every day, even while other Americans may have the option to stay at home and work from a safe distance. 
In terms of COVID-19, there are more threats to their physical and emotional health on top of the ones that were already there:   additional worries adding furrows to already-wrinkled brows; more pressures weighing down backs already bowed low with care; more colleagues and family members getting sick and dying all around them.  Since undocumented workers have been intentionally excluded from any federal relief packages, most farmworkers continue to have little to no safety net they can depend on even in these incredible stressful and dangerous times. Nothing has changed the fact that they must still go to work.

Farmworkers are proud of what they do, as they should be.  They are responsible for feeding America, and they know it.  But even though there is meant to be a sense of honor with the label of “essential worker,” it can feel like just another excuse to be mistreated and taken for granted.  “Essential not Disposable” has been the rallying cry in many farmworker communities.  Some farmworkers even outright reject the label of “frontline hero.”  “There is nothing heroic about what we do,” one farmworker named Erick told the United Farmworkers Union. “We work out of necessity.”
With all due respect to Erick, there is everything heroic about what they do – but it’s frustrating that farm work has to be as heroic as it is, that farmworkers must endanger their lives in order to provide for their families.  Farmworkers need support, they want their basic rights, and they deserve respect and acceptance at all levels of government.  Enough with the disparagement, the ICE raids, the lack of protections that workers in all other industries receive.
America says it is grateful for its #essentialworkers.  It’s time to put money where its mouth is.


Harvest of Shame: Farmworkers Face Coronavirus Disaster


Within days of the coronavirus pandemic taking hold, the Trump administration had to confront a reality it had long tried to ignore: The nation’s 2.5 million farmworkers, about half of whom the government estimates are undocumented, are absolutely critical to keeping the food system working.  Six months into the pandemic, according to a POLITICO analysis, these workers appear to be victims of the worst of the Covid-19 crisis. For several weeks, many of the places that grow the nation’s fruits and vegetables have seen disproportionately high rates of coronavirus cases — a national trend that, as harvest season advances in many states, threatens already vulnerable farmworkers, their communities and the places they work.  Read more.

A Coronavirus Disaster for Farmworkers


Crammed living quarters. No time off. A lack of protective gear. Advocates warned at the start of the pandemic that farms were ripe for outbreaks. POLITICO’s Ximena Bustillo explains how decades of workplace issues created the “perfect storm” for a coronavirus disaster among farmworkers.  Listen here.

Visa Fees Rise for Employers of Guestworkers Under Final Rule


Fees charged to employers of guestworkers on temporary visas will increase almost across the board beginning in October, but a proposed rise for participants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program has been nixed, according to a final rule released Friday.  Employers filing for named beneficiaries on H-2A agricultural visas will pay 85 percent more in fees, while the charge for named beneficiaries for H-2B non-agricultural seasonal workers will jump by 55 percent.  The fee increases come as the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is facing a budgetary shortfall amid the coronavirus pandemic.  Read more.

United States Department of Labor

United States Department of Labor Announces Availability of $40 Million for Rural Healthcare Grants

The United States Department of Labor announced September 15 the availability of up to $40 million in funding in the Rural Healthcare Grant Program to address rural healthcare workforce shortages in communities across the country.
Prior to the coronavirus crisis, the U.S. had approximately 6.8 million job openings, many of which required skilled labor in the healthcare industry.  Research suggests that the U.S. not only has an ongoing shortage of healthcare workers, but it also has a shortage of skilled workers for the jobs that are available.
The Department’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA), which administers the program, seeks to address this shortage through the release of funding to invest in successful, employer-driven, training models and community partnerships to establish sustainable programs to address rural healthcare shortages.  Through the investment in these rural communities, ETA aims to help individuals gain the skills necessary to fill these vacancies and allow employers to find skilled workers more readily.
The press release is also live on DOL’s website here:
Here is the link to the funding opportunity announcement posted on

National Workforce Development Month

Challenging times will spark innovation and change.  As we recognize September as National Workforce Development Month, we also recognize the public workforce system has been pressed hard to adapt quickly to current environment.  While simultaneously providing millions of out-of-work individuals with unemployment benefits and assistance to businesses, our system is reimagining how we can provide services with so many American Job Centers temporarily closed.  The rise of virtual or appointment-only services is only one of many changes that the system will adapt to as we learn to be more agile in providing services.  The goal of WorkforceGPS is to help share best practices on new ways of delivering services and technical assistance to the system as you navigate our new normal.  Read more.

Proteus’s Alcivar Named to Class of 2020, Forty under 40

Youth Apprenticeship Readiness Grants (YARG) Community

In July 2020, the Employment and Training Administration awarded its Youth Apprenticeship Readiness grants to 14 organizations throughout the country.  This funding will increase participation of youth, ages 16 to 24, in new or existing Registered Apprenticeship Programs (RAPs) in industries including manufacturing, information technology, cybersecurity, and healthcare.  The Youth Apprenticeship Readiness Grants (YARG) Community has been created for YARG grantees and is open to the workforce community.  This platform will be used to collaborate, knowledge-share, and access information on how to utilize traditional, alternative, and non-traditional schools as well as programs serving out-of-school youth, school boards, workforce boards, employers, workforce partners, and other apprenticeship intermediaries to partner, develop and establish new, or expand existing, apprenticeship models and programs for youth.

Workforce Development

A new policy development in California reflects one of National Skills Coalition's key recommendations pertaining to digital literacy. In July, state officials launched a project providing digital upskilling opportunities for state residents who currently receive certain public benefits.
Participants in the pilot project come from one of several programs overseen by the California Department of Social Services (CDSS). These include CalFresh, the state’s SNAP Employment and Training program; CalWorks, its Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program; and its refugee resettlement program.
The new policy is a step toward NSC’s Skills for an Inclusive Economic Recovery policy agenda item #6: Digital access and learning for all working people at home and on the job.  Read more.

The Unnecessary Crisis in the American Workforce

Industry Week

Somehow the notion that a four-year college is for everyone has entered the national zeitgeist, but it's just not true.  For several decades, the supply of skilled blue-collar workers has been shrinking, while demand rises.  According to DOL, as of July 2017, a record 6.8 million jobs that require skilled laborers were left unfilled.  Many of them are manufacturing jobs.  The National Association of Manufacturers reports that a skills gap has caused about a half-million manufacturing jobs to remain open, and consulting company Deloitte predicts that by the end of this decade, as many as 2.4 million manufacturing jobs may go unfilled, putting $454 billion in production at risk.  While these numbers were reported before the coronavirus hit and unemployment has jumped to record levels in virtually all industries, scientists and economists agree that our economy will recover.  When it does, for a successful reboot, we’re going to need skilled blue-collar and manufacturing workers more than ever.  Read more.

Alternative Credentials on the Rise

Inside Higher Ed

A growing body of evidence has found strong consumer interest in recent months in skills-based, online credentials that are clearly tied to careers, particularly among adult learners from diverse and lower-income backgrounds, whom four-year colleges often have struggled to attract and graduate.  The reasons alternative credentials are piquing the interest of more Americans are not new, nor surprising. For years the demographics of higher education have been shifting away from traditional-age, full-paying college students while online education has become more sophisticated and accepted.  But a wide range of experts say the unprecedented societal turbulence caused by a pandemic, the worst recession in a century and a national reckoning over racism have accelerated and added urgency to the development of alternative pathways to career and life success.  Read more.


SNAP Benefit Boost Would Get Needed Food Aid to the Poorest Participants, Who Have Been Left Out

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Congress may head home at the end of September without passing needed additional stimulus measures to respond to the alarming numbers of families that are struggling to put enough food on the table and facing other economic hardships due to COVID-19. A top priority for lawmakers this month should be raising SNAP (food stamp) benefits as a way of mitigating hardship and injecting fast, high “bang-for-the-buck” stimulus into the economy. We estimate that this would help more than 16 million people, including 7 million children, who live in households that participate in SNAP and who have not received extra SNAP COVID-emergency benefits. 
We’ve recommended increasing the SNAP maximum allotment by 15 percent until economic measures show that unemployment is no longer significantly elevated. That would amount to about $25 more per person per month, or just under $100 per month in food assistance for a family of four. The House-passed Heroes Act includes a time-limited 15 percent bump in SNAP benefits. This increase would ensure that the poorest SNAP households receive additional help from SNAP at a time when many households face severe hardship. The relief proposals offered by the White House and Senate Republican leadership, however, have been inadequate and include no additional food assistance.  Read more.

COVID-19 Making Women’s Economic Situation Worse, Especially for Black, Non-Hispanic Women and Latinas

National Women’s Law Center

The National Women’s Law Center’s Research Team analyzed some of the Census Household Pulse Survey race and gender data for Weeks 1-12.  Our fact sheet shares how COVID-19 is making women’s economic situation even worse, especially for Black, non-Hispanic women and Latinas. Here are some top lines of the data:
  • 40.8% of Black, non-Hispanic women and 44.6% of Latinas faced housing insecurity in mid-July compared to 15.4% of white, non-Hispanic men. These rates were higher for households with children (45.2% for Black, non-Hispanic women with children and 48.8% for Latinas with children).
  • Black, non-Hispanic women and Latinas have consistently reported not making last month’s rent or mortgage payment at double-digit rates that have been consistently higher than their white, non-Hispanic counterparts. This demonstrates the importance of Congress passing $100 billion in emergency rental assistance and $75 billion in mortgage assistance to help families with back rent/mortgage payments and fees.
  • More than half of Black, non-Hispanic women (54.5%), Asian, non-Hispanic women (56.3%), and Latinas (63.7%) reported a loss of income since March, compared to 45.1% of white, non-Hispanic men and 46.0% of white, non-Hispanic women.
  • More than 1 in 5 Black, non-Hispanic women (21.5%) and Latinas (21.1%) reported not having enough food in the past week, making them three times more likely than white, non-Hispanic men (7.0%) to report experiencing food scarcity.  Read More.

Billionaire Wealth Grew by $845 Billion, or 29 Percent, as America Struggled Through First Six Months of Pandemic

Americans for Tax Fairness

Half a year into a paralyzing pandemic that has cost millions of Americans their livelihoods and lives, the nation’s 643 billionaires have racked up $845 billion in collective wealth gains, a 29% leap since March 18.  According to Forbes, America’s billionaires reached this startling milestone of wealth accumulation even as special federal relief was drying up for millions of unemployed workers and for hard-pressed state and local governments struggling to provide vital services.  Between March 18—the rough start date of the pandemic shutdown, when most federal and state economic restrictions were in place—and September 15, the total net worth of the nation’s billionaires rose from $2.95 trillion to $3.8 trillion.  That works out to gains of $141 billion a month, $32 billion a week, or $4.7 billion a day.  Needless to say, ordinary workers did not fare as well.  From mid-March to mid-August, the collective work income of rank-and-file private-sector employees—all hours worked times the hourly wages of the entire bottom 82 percent of the workforce—declined by 4.4 percent, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.  Read more.

What We’re Reading

6 Signs That the Labor Market Remains in Deep Trouble

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

The September 4 jobs report shows a labor market that, despite improvements since April, remains devastated by the COVID-19 recession.  The crisis has imposed severe, ongoing hardship on tens of millions of people, disproportionately those in Black, Latino, Indigenous, and immigrant households.  Yet policymakers let the CARES Act’s $600 weekly supplemental unemployment benefit expire July 31, and the supplemental benefit that the president imposed by executive order will provide less, and short-lived, relief.  Without further federal action, jobless workers grappling with sharply reduced incomes will face growing challenges paying their bills.  Read more.

Upon the Altar of Work: Child Labor and the Rise of a New American Sectionalism

A book by Betsy Wood, former member of the Child Labor Coalition

“Rooted in the crisis over slavery, disagreements about child labor broke down along sectional lines between the North and South.  For decades after emancipation, the child labor issue shaped how Northerners and Southerners defined fundamental concepts of American life such as work, freedom, the market, and the state.  Betsy Wood examines the evolution of ideas about child labor and the on-the-ground politics of the issue against the backdrop of broad developments related to slavery and emancipation, industrial capitalism, moral and social reform, and American politics and religion.  Wood explains how the decades-long battle over child labor created enduring political and ideological divisions within capitalist society that divided the gatekeepers of modernity from the cultural warriors who opposed them.  Tracing the ideological origins and the politics of the child labor battle over the course of eighty years, this book tells the story of how child labor debates bequeathed an enduring legacy of sectionalist conflict to modern American capitalist society.”

Election Day is Just Weeks Away

Coalition on Human Needs

Elections are the most direct way in our democracy for people to prioritize the issues that our country faces.  Your vote is your opportunity to support leaders that will fight for what you believe in and will advance your priorities.  This coming election, on November 3rd, is perhaps the most consequential in the history of our country.  The Coalition on Human Needs believes that every eligible voter should have the ability to actively participate in our democracy.  That’s why, over the next two months, we’ll be providing you with opportunities to strengthen our democracy and help others access their right to vote.  Our first step is providing you with the resources you need to make your voice heard on Election Day. We will continue to be in touch with resources and opportunities to strengthen our democracy and our access to the ballot box.  These are challenging times.  Thank you for your continued help to fight for vulnerable people throughout our country.

Deep Creek Lake, Maryland

Daniel Sheehan

If you ever find yourself in the mountains of western Maryland, give me a call.  I would be more than happy to share with you the wonder that is Deep Creek Lake.
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 promoting self-sufficiency through employment and training opportunities, educational attainment, and health and safety.
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) 963-3200.
Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs

1150 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Suite 315
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Direct: (202) 963-3200

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