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Jan 13, 2021  |  VIEW IN BROWSER

 

Inside AFOP

Creator: David McNew | Credit: Getty Images | Copyright: 2004 Getty Images
 

Reflecting and Looking Forward in Hope

Daniel Sheehan, AFOP Executive Director

January 8, 2021

 
You have heard it said many times and many ways: 2020 was a very tough year.  The coronavirus took hundreds of thousands of American lives, infections spread to every corner of the country, farmworkers were essentially left to fend for themselves, and hospitals were overwhelmed while many citizens refused to take even simple measures to check the virus’s spread.  In politics, Democrats won the White House, but lost ground in the House of Representatives.  The outgoing president refused to accept the election’s outcome, alleging corruption the courts nearly unanimously rejected out of hand.  Mr. Trump’s unwillingness to concede, and his determined and nefarious efforts to undermine the legitimacy of the vote, sadly, I believe, led directly to Wednesday’s deadly attempted insurrection at The Capitol. As someone who has spent a career inside and around that building, I found it almost too much to take.  One AFOP director told me she was in tears. I confess I was, too. 
 
Not all was damaged or lost in 2020, though.  Congress approved a $2 million increase in National Farmworker Jobs Program (NFJP) funding to $94 million.  Despite the outgoing administration’s continuing attempts to terminate the program, we saw Congress boost the account by 15 percent since 2017.  Lawmakers also loosened the NFJP low-income eligibility requirement, meaning grantees will be able to serve more farmworkers, and gave the United States Department of Labor the authority to avoid future delays in approving grantee grant plans.  2020 also saw the House Committee on Education and Labor, the panel that has primary responsibility for Opportunity Act reauthorization, approve a bill that would have allowed an additional $150 million for NFJP, loosen program eligibility, and direct DOL to account for the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on grantee NFJP performance.  We are grateful for Chairman Bobby Scott’s strong commitment to expanding NFJP and look forward to his reauthorizing the Opportunity Act, perhaps in the new 117th Congress. 
 
Looking ahead, the new Biden Administration will need some time to get up and running.  For one thing, the new president will not have his complete cabinet in place Day One.  Or Day Two or Three.  Additionally, his team will require time to pore over the budget documents, make changes to reflect priorities, and get it to Capitol Hill for consideration.  That delay will likely cause the annual appropriations process to get off to a late start.  With the return of a more traditional presidential administration, however, members of Congress will likely feel more secure and confident in the integrity of the process and will therefore be more inclined to participate and compromise.  I know that seems a thousand miles from where we now stand, but I have hope that better days, much better days, are coming and coming soon. 
 
Click here for information on the new COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments, from the House Ways & Means Committee.

PPEP’s Dr. Arnold Lauded on Senate Floor

January 4, 2021

 
Retiring United States Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming) took to the Senate floor recently to recognize PPEP Chief Executive Officer and Founder Dr. John Arnold for his work educating and training at-risk individuals throughout Arizona and beyond.  In delivering his speech, the senator said he wanted to share “uplifting news.”  Watch Senator Enzi’s remarks here.

Rocky Mountain SER Opens Drive-Up Food Pantry in Pueblo, CO

Fox 21 News

January 13, 2021

 
Rocky Mountain SER has started up a twice-monthly drive-up food pantry in Pueblo, Colorado, to assist those in need.
 
“It’s open to the public, regardless of your economic background,” said Chris Hall, CEO of Rocky Mountain SER.  “We are in a time when everyone needs help.”
 
Those in line for food said the extra groceries are indeed a big help.
 
Read More
CVOC Delivers Masks and Resources to Support Farmworkers Through Pandemic

November 30, 2020

 
Central Valley Opportunity Center (CVOC) held many distribution events this past fall, where they shared free hand sanitizer, face masks, care packages, and information packets to hundreds of farmworkers.  CVOC also teamed up with Public Health to deliver up-to-date information about coronavirus and various resources that are available.

Madera County
Merced County
Stanislaus County

OHDC Recognized as a Model for Delivering Housing Assistance

National Low Income Housing Coalition

January 11, 2020

 
In preparation for the new federal funding being distributed across the states, the National Low Income Housing Coalition put together several recommendations for program administrators and advocates to ensure marginalized populations can access emergency rental assistance, those with the greatest needs are prioritized for receive assistance, and assistance is distributed in an equitable manner.  Included in the Best Practices is a reference to the partnership between the state of Oregon and OHDC, and OHDC’s critical role in ensuring the housing assistance reached farmworkers. 
 
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PathStone Corporation Wins Developers Award in Rochester, NY

January 5, 2021

 
PathStone Corporation won in the “Developers” category at the 2020 Rochester Business Journal and The Daily Record Excellence in Construction & Real Estate awards, for their excellence in providing affordable, supportive, and safe housing to the community.  PathStone President and CEO, Alex Castro, is pictured with the plaque.

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Proteus, Telamon, and Others Partner with ECMHSP on New Head Start Grant for Farmworker Families

ECMHSP

November 9, 2020

 
The United States Department of Health and Human Services has designated East Coast Migrant Head Start Project (ECMHSP) as the grantee to provide Head Start services to agricultural workers in Indiana and Oklahoma.  ECMHSP will receive approximately $5M annually to provide high quality and comprehensive Head Start services to 236 children of agricultural workers in nine Head Start centers.  It anticipates opening its doors to farmworker families in late spring with the start of the agricultural seasons.

ECMHSP was aided in its funding application by the support of many community partners, including the Indiana Department of Migrant Education; Proteus, Inc.; Indiana Legal Services, Inc.; and Telamon Corporation.  Partnering with the organizations that serve the farmworker communities in Indiana and Oklahoma will be a high priority for ECMHSP as it transitions into these new service areas.

REO Montana Helps Blackfeet Tribal Member Complete College Degree

Center for Large Landscape Preservation

November 16, 2020

 
After working in the fields of Montana, Termaine Edmo, a young member of the Amskapi Piikani (Blackfeet) Tribe, decided she wanted a new course in life and became a participant of the National Farmworker Jobs Program (NFJP) with REO Montana.   With NFJP’s help, she was able to attend college where she studied and explored the impacts of climate change on water quality.  Upon graduation, she was offered a full-time position to continue her work with the Blackfeet Environmental Office. 

When asked about her goals and the legacy she hopes to build, Termaine commented on the ecosystem health of the Blackfeet Nation: “I see water quality for the whole reservation. I see us sustaining our water, sustaining our recreational life, and sustaining our Soyiitapi: the divine water beings, the spirits we value and who are a part of us. [My goal is] for us to modernize traditional knowledge.”

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Health & Safety

The Power of Partnerships

Proteus, Inc., Indiana

November 25, 2020


This was the first season that the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs (AFOP) was able to offer safety training for workers at local orchards in Indiana.

After several visits over the past three years to orchards in the west-central region of Indiana, and a delivery of facemasks and gloves to workers there this season, Proteus case manager Dana Cowsert received an inquiry about safety training from McClure’s Orchard. McClure’s Orchard and Hainlen Orchard had partnered to employ nine workers.

On the day of training, Proteus program specialist Gloribel Flores assisted the grandmother and grandfather living at the migrant camp by connecting them to community partner Indiana Health Center for medical appointments and supplies during their stay in Indiana.

Days later, an orchard worker sought Proteus’s help with childcare for children living at the camp. Dana was able to partner with Doris Waters, migrant education assistant director of support programming, and the Howard County School Corporation to register two of the three children for kindergarten. Later, Doris visited the camp to deliver backpacks to the children and meet their mother, Noemi Chavez. The next morning, Doris transported mom and children to the school to register. The following Monday, the bus picked up the boys to attend their first day of school! #Partnerships

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OSHA Updates FAQ to Address Cloth Face Coverings as PPE

USDOL

November 18, 2020

 
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published an update to its Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) to address whether OSHA considers cloth face coverings to be personal protective equipment.  The agency is addressing the topic after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently determined that some cloth face coverings may serve as source control while also providing the wearer with some personal protection.

The FAQ states that OSHA does not believe enough information is currently available to determine if a particular cloth face covering provides sufficient protection from the coronavirus hazard to be personal protective equipment under OSHA’s standard. OSHA’s determination is consistent with statements made by the CDC, which has stated it needs more research on cloth facemasks’ protective effects, particularly on the combination of materials that maximize blocking and filtering effectiveness.

OSHA continues to encourage workers strongly to wear face coverings when in close contact with others to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus, if it is appropriate for the work environment.

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On Capitol Hill

House Passes National Apprenticeship Act of 2020

November 20, 2020

 
On November 20, 2020, the House of Representatives passed the National Apprenticeship Act of 2020.  Under this legislation, the Office of Apprenticeships would award grants to eligible entities to (1) expand national apprenticeship system programs, including by expanding pre-apprenticeship and youth apprenticeship programs; (2) encourage employer participation; and (3) strengthen alignment between the apprenticeship system and education providers.”

The House is expected to once again pass this bill in the new Congress and send it to the Senate for further consideration.

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Inside the U.S. Department of Labor

Florida Beekeeper Pays $10,487 in Back Wages and Penalties

USDOL

January 13, 2021

 
After an investigation, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) assessed S&S Apiaries LLC – a New Smyrna, Florida-based beekeeper – a $6,357 civil money penalty and found the employer owed $4,130 in back wages to three employees for violating the labor provisions of the H-2A guest worker visa program.

WHD investigators found the employer violated the requirements of the H-2A visa program by failing to disclose the actual terms and conditions of the job when applying to employ guest workers. In its petition to participate in the program, the employer stated that employees would work 38 available hours per week, but in the performance of the actual work, employees worked more than 50 hours per workweek. The employer also failed to provide a copy of the work contract to the employees and to display an H-2A poster at the job site or warehouse, as required. In addition, WHD found back wages due when S&S Apiaries failed to pay employees for any hours they worked beyond 50 in a workweek.

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Oregon Agricultural Operators Pay Back Wages

USDOL

December 16, 2020

 
After an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD), three Oregon agricultural operators will pay a collective $11,418 in back wages after wrongly denying paid sick leave to employees whose healthcare providers advised them to self-quarantine following potential coronavirus exposures.
 
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USDOL Debars Florida H-2A Labor Contractors

USDOL

December 1, 2020

 
Wage & Hour investigators found Flo-Ag and H-2A labor contractors Juan and Jose Flores violated wage requirements when they paid lower wages to U.S. workers than they paid to guest workers performing the same work. They violated housing requirements when they failed to provide free housing to U.S. workers but did so for guest workers, and failed to provide meals or kitchen facilities to U.S. workers. Flo-Ag also violated safety and health standards in the housing it provided to guest workers, and failed to reimburse them for expenses they incurred traveling to the facility from their home countries, as the law requires.

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Adverse Effect Wage Rate

USDOL Publishes Final Rule Final Rule that Undercuts Farmworker Wages 

November 2, 2020

 
The U.S. Department of Labor announced a final rule that updates the methodology for determining the annual Adverse Effect Wage Rates (AEWRs) in the H-2A visa program.  Farmworker Justice argued against these rules, stating that “Secretary Scalia’s decision to freeze farmworkers’ wage rates under the H-2A agricultural guestworker program for two years is an utterly arbitrary and unlawful act that inflicts grave harm to some of the most vulnerable workers in the nation.”

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Farmworker Justice Teams with UFW to Sue DOL over New H-2A Wage Rule

Farmworker Justice

November 30, 2020

 
The United Farm Workers (UFW) and the UFW Foundation, represented by Farmworker Justice and the law firm WilmerHale, filed a federal lawsuit challenging the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) decision to slash wages under the H-2A agricultural guest worker program. The case challenges DOL’s issuance on November 5 of a new regulation that undermines wage protection for U.S. and temporary foreign workers under the H-2A program.  The lawsuit requested a preliminary injunction to stop the regulation from taking effect on December 21, and a permanent injunction seeking to have the rule set aside. DOL’s announcement of the new regulation stated that nationwide farmworkers would experience wage losses averaging $170 million per year over ten years. 

Read more

Court Enjoins USDOL from Implementing Wage Freeze on H-2A Adverse Effect Wage Rate

Farmworker Justice

December 23, 2020

 
On December 23, a federal court in California enjoined the U.S. Department of Labor’s decision to freeze, and effectively lower, several hundred thousand farmworkers’ wages employed at farms that use the H-2A agricultural guestworker program.  The judge issued a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit filed by the United Farm Workers (UFW) and the UFW Foundation, represented by Farmworker Justice and the law firm WilmerHale. The new regulation was set to affect wage rates in 2021.
 
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Employment & Training

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Calls for Governments to Fund Rapid Training Programs

Politico.com

January 13, 2021

 
U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue said Tuesday that a broad-based economic recovery in 2021 depends on reskilling and supporting workers. The usually conservative Chamber is embracing a radical shift on skills policy. “Our lawmakers should fund rapid training programs to connect the unemployed with jobs in new sectors,” Donohue said in a State of American Business address.
 
Employers should take a lead in designing these programs, Donohue said, but said the benefits to workers would be clear-cut: “If we do this right and do it quickly, we will improve the living standard for millions of Americans.”
 
Read more

More People with Bachelor’s Degrees Go Back to School to Learn Skilled Trades

Washington Post

November 20, 2020

 
A lot of people invest time and money getting four-year degrees only to return for career and technical education in fields ranging from firefighting to automation to nursing, in which jobs are relatively plentiful and salaries and benefits comparatively good, but which require faster and far less costly certificates and associate degrees.

The trend is also exposing how many high school graduates almost reflexively go to college without entirely knowing why, pushed by parents and counselors, only to be disappointed with the way things turn out — and then having to start over.

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Report: Highest-Paying Construction Jobs That Don't Require a College Degree

Construction Dive

 
Several of the highest-paid jobs in the country that don't require a college degree are related to the construction industry, according to a new report from Advisor Smith. Construction managers earn the second-highest salary on the list of jobs that don't require a degree, which is based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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Farmworkers

Panel Recommends No Change to Overtime Threshold for Farmworkers in New York

NewsDay

January 5, 2021

 
Farmworkers on Long Island and across the state will have to wait at least a year before a state panel makes a recommendation about cutting the number of work hours before overtime must be paid.

Board member Denis Hughes, former president of the state AFL-CIO, an umbrella group of unions, disagreed, saying the postponement of a decision is "an affront" to restaurants, food processors and other agriculture-related businesses that already pay time-and-a-half to their employees after 40 hours of work per week.

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New HEP and CAMP Grant Award Competition Open Until January 22

Employment & Training Reporter

December 7, 2020

 
The Department of Education solicited applications in the November 23 Federal Register for the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) and the High School Equivalency Program (HEP).  These grants support services that help farmworkers and their children access and succeed in postsecondary education and complete high school equivalency certificate programs. Grants ranging from $180,000 to $475,000, to support 12-month budget periods, with projects potentially extending up to five years, are available under both programs.  Eligible applicants are institutions of higher education and nonprofit organizations that plan a project in partnership with a college or university.  Applications are due Jan. 22.  Find these solicitations and apply at www.grants.gov, using funding opportunity numbers ED-GRANTS-112320-001 for HEP and ED-GRANTS-112320-002 for CAMP.

Applications for New Awards, High School Equivalency Program
Applications for New Awards; College Assistance Migrant Program

Protecting Undocumented Workers on the Pandemic’s Front Lines

Center for American Progress

December 2, 2020

 
Undocumented immigrants and their families are a part of the social fabric of the country. Recognizing that value first and foremost, this report looks at the role of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. workforce, their fiscal and economic contributions to the country, and how an estimated 5 million undocumented immigrants—nearly 3 in 4 undocumented immigrants in the workforce—are keeping the country moving forward as essential workers in the face of the pandemic. 
 
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Poverty

Food over Fear: Overcoming Barriers to Federal Nutrition and Food Programs

Food Research and Action Center (FRAC)

December 2020

 
Before the COVID-19 pandemic began, immigrant families — even families with U.S. citizen members — faced disproportionate obstacles to accessing federal nutrition and food programs that protect against food insecurity. Now with COVID-19 fueling unprecedented food insecurity and ravaging immigrant communities at disproportionate rates, the work to connect immigrant families to nutrition programs that keep them nourished and healthy is of utmost importance.
 
This report sheds light on why many immigrant families are forgoing vital assistance from federal nutrition and food programs and lifts up recommendations aimed at ensuring that all families and individuals, regardless of immigration status, are nourished and healthy.
 
Read More

A Shaky Bridge: Congress Averts Unemployment Cliff, but Fails to Secure Enough Jobless Aid

The Century Foundation

December 21, 2020

 
The stimulus package that Congress passed on December 20th preserves and extends historic elements of the CARES Act, which Columbia University researchers predict could keep some 7.6 million Americans out of poverty in January 2021.

Unfortunately, many workers won’t receive the benefits until well into this short period—and at that point, the states will be forced to cut it off once again. Worst of all, Congress will be setting itself up for another 10 million-plus worker benefit cut off that will start in mid-March, before the new administration and Congress can be reasonably expected to pass another round of relief.

Read More

What We’re Reading

Peggy Noonan: Attack on Democracy

Wall Street Journal

January 7, 2021

 
Renowned columnist and Pulitzer Prize winner Peggy Noonan wasted no time in letting the world know where she stands on Wednesday’s attack on the United States Capitol:

No civilized country can accept or allow what we saw Wednesday with the violent assault on the U.S. Capitol. This was an attack on democracy itself.  That is not just a phrase.  Rule by the people relies on adherence to law and process.  The assault and siege was an attempt to stop the work of democracy by halting the peaceful transfer of presidential power, our crowning glory for more than two centuries.  This was a sin against history.

Read more

A New Paradigm for Humane and Effective Immigration Enforcement

Center for American Progress

November 30, 2020

 
In recent decades, detention and deportation have become the entirety of America’s immigration enforcement strategy.  This report suggests a new paradigm for interior immigration enforcement in the United States that strives to be more humane, in that it does not subject individuals or communities to unnecessary suffering; more effective, in that increased compliance with the law can be realistically and efficiently achieved; and more just, in that people can, in practice, obtain the rights and enjoy the privileges the rules afford.
 
Read More

Rebuilding the U.S. Refugee Program for the 21st Century

Center for American Progress

 
Once an exemplary model as a welcoming nation to refugees, the U.S. refugee resettlement system has been decimated by the Trump administration since it took office in 2017. When the United States is ready to reprioritize refugee resettlement and to restore its reputation as a welcoming nation, it should aim to modernize the program and make it more resilient than ever before, so it can continue to successfully resettle and integrate a diverse refugee population.

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 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.
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1150 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Suite 315
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