Apr 2, 2019
Michigan attorney general asked to rule on pay for migrant farm workers

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission is asking Attorney General Dana Nessel to reconsider whether Michigan’s smallest farms can legally pay migrant farm workers less than minimum wage.

The news came in a report published by The Michigan Advance, nonprofit news site covering politics and policy across the state.

Here’s more from the Michigan Advance story:

“The request comes after former Attorney General Bill Schuette issued a 2017 legal opinion arguing that certain small farms in Michigan do not have to abide by Michigan’s minimum wage of $9.25 an hour. Schuette upheld a 2016 state interpretation that some small farms do not have to pay it because they are exempt from federal minimum wage law.

Michigan Department of Civil Rights Director Agustin Arbulu warned last year that the ruling could have a “chilling” effect on farms already struggling to find seasonal laborers amid concern that increased federal immigration enforcement may scare off migrant farm workers.

Arbulu said in a statement Monday that the request to reconsider Schuette’s migrant labor pay opinion will “send an important and significant message to migrant and seasonal farm workers.”

“The actions by the Commission will help us continue to focus our work on protecting some of the most vulnerable people providing incredibly important work for our agricultural economy,” he continued.

The commission also approved a motion “reconfirming the body’s commitment to fair housing” for migrant workers. The motion includes “a focus on preventing restrictive zoning ordinances and laws which could violate Michigan’s Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act,” according to a press release from the commission.”

To view the entire Michigan Advance story, visit here.


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