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From: Organic Fiber Council, INTERNET:firstname.lastname@example.org
To: Patricia Dines, 73652,1202
Date: Thu, Sep 17, 1998, 1:47 PM
Subject: WINE and FARM WORKER SAFETY
>Date: Thu, 17 Sep 1998 08:40:14 -0400
>From: Jim Cameron <JFORUM@compuserve.com>
>Subject: Jim Cameron's Organic News Update - FARM WORKER SAFETY
>APn 9/16/98 8:00 PM
>Copyright 1998 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
>The information contained in this news report may not be published,
>broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of
>the Associated Press.
> By CHRISTINE HANLEY
> Associated Press Writer
> FRESNO, Calif. (AP) -- A sweeping federal investigation of California's
>grape vineyards shows that nearly 80 percent of the industry violates farm
> The study released by the U.S. Labor Department Wednesday also found
>that many labor contractors used by grape growers fail to meet minimum
>and other workplace guidelines.
> The problems run the gamut, from not posting worker protections and
>shoddy record-keeping to underage and underpaid workers to unsafe housing
> On a positive note, investigators found a relatively high compliance
>rate with rules on child labor, health and safety, with the number of
>violations paling in comparison to cases of unfair wages.
> "Nothing like this has ever been done to focus on the industry," said
>George Friday Jr., acting regional administrator of the department's Wage
>and Hour Division in San Francisco.
> The Labor Department has levied $43,200 in civil penalties and awarded
>$39,654 in back pay to 369 workers as a result of its first in-depth
>inspection of the nation's wine-producing business.
> Because this was the first investigation and most of the violations
>not too egregious, the cases are not being considered for criminal
>prosecution. But the government hopes the crackdown will send a message.
> "They've been put on notice," Friday said. "At this point, if they've
>never been checked, you have to give them the benefit of the doubt. ... If
>it happens again, we might consider some type of action against them."
> The Labor Department zeroed in on California because it provides the
>best snapshot of the grape-growing industry, leading all states with 8,012
>vineyards and $2.1 billion in annual receipts.
> Computer software was used to simulate a statistically valid sampling
>allowing the conclusions to be projected industrywide with a 90 percent
>confidence rate, researchers said.
> Between January and April, inspection teams fanned out to 66 grape
>vineyards in 14 counties and also investigated 23 labor contractors used
>these growers. Vineyard employers were held responsible for any
>transgressions by labor contractors that took place on their property.
> Inspectors cited 51 of the vineyards, or 77 percent, for violating at
>least one provision of the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker
>Protection Act or the Fair Labor Standards Act.
> The two federal laws, among other things, set minimum health and safety
>standards for housing and transportation, guarantee a basic minimum hourly
>wage and restrict the hours and type of work by minors.
> While most growers were found in compliance with health and safety
>codes, the Labor Department determined 21 percent of the growers and 52
>percent of the labor contractors underpaid their workers.
> The majority of minimum wage violations occurred when piece rates were
>paid, and in some of these cases, employers tried to mask the low wages by
>recording the work of several workers on one worker's time sheet.
> The investigation shows that labor contractors were more likely than
>growers to violate wage regulations. For instance, 52 percent of the time,
>they did not pay their workers at least semi-monthly, as required by law.
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