Jennifer Rodriguez Testimony for SB.21.087 (March 2021)


Main Participant

Jennifer Rodriguez

Legislative Action

SB21-087 Agricultural Workers' Rights

Original Language

English

Transcription

[Jennifer Rodriguez] Good afternoon, my name is Jennifer Rodriguez, I work for Colorado Legal Services. I represented Colorado farmworkers on employment issues for over 14 years, and I have seen how they are treated, forced, and live to work. [Unintelligible] uh, excuse me, forced to live and work. Farmworkers were intentionally excluded from the laws that provide basic worker protections in order to preserve a system built on the racially motivated exploitation of farmworkers and domestic servants for their cheap labor. H2A workers are covered by this bill because other than minimum wage, they don’t have these protections either. Employers can only bring H2A workers if they can’t find US workers. By offering the same protections as others who work in labor-intensive jobs like breaks, minimum wage, collective bargaining, there may be less of a need for H2A workers in the future. The additional provisions of the bill address those issues caused by the deeply-rooted power imbalance that has always been present in agriculture. Threats of retaliation are active under appealing but most without consequence. More-more than once, I have visited farmworkers who were working long hours, seven days a week and had run out of food because their boss hadn’t taken them to get groceries, and because they were here on H2A visas, far from town without transportation, that was their only option. H2A employers hold the key to those workers’ legal status, and, as a result, they don’t want to make their employers mad. They might be sent home or not invited back next year. They’ve seen it happen and so have I. Because of the lack of protections and enforcement mechanisms, restrictions-restricted access by employers there are so many stories like this and worse like human trafficking and sexual assault. Farmers and ranchers understandably want to hold on to what they have and what they have been given, but considering how we got here, why farmworkers have been excluded for so long, the agricultural industry continues to be powerful and very well organized. You have been contacted by farmers, the trade association, and their lobbyists who’ve complained that they weren’t at the table for this bill. Farmworkers weren’t at the table when these exclusions were put in the place. They weren’t even allowed into the house. Farmworkers have [unintelligible] . . .

[Chair Rodriguez] M-Ms. Rodriguez . . .

[Jennifer Rodriguez] Yes?

[Chair Rodriguez] Ms., you’re over time, if you wanna wrap up, we would appreciate it.

[Jennifer Rodriguez] Thank you. Farmworkers have a lot less power and political clout, and you’ll hear more about them today. Farmworkers want what the rest of the Colorado workforce has, and based on what I have seen and what I know, there is no justifiable reason why they shouldn’t get it. Thank you.

Translation Language (if available)

N/A

Archivist Notes

Jennifer testified on March 17, 2021 at 3:06 PM to 3:09 PM for the Senate Business, Labor, & Technology Committee.

Title

Jennifer Rodriguez Testimony for SB.21.087 (March 2021)

Description

Jennifer Rodriguez, legal consoler at Colorado Legal Services, gives testimony in favor of SB.21.087, which is otherwise known as the Agricultural Worker Bill of Rights. Rodriguez gives an overview of her experience representing migrant ag. workers in Colorado and justifies the inclusion of H2A workers in this legislation.

Creator

Jenifer Rodriguez

Date

March 17, 2021

Contributor

Mitchell Christensen

Format

Citation

Jenifer Rodriguez, Jennifer Rodriguez Testimony for SB.21.087 (March 2021) March 17, 2021. Esencial Colorado, accessed July 22, 2024, https://esencialcolorado.org/items/show/49