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These programs are humane in origin, bold in conception, impressive in scope, and understanding of the sometimes conflicting interests between farm employer and farmworker. In the words of Senator Harrison A. Williams, Jr., of New Jersey, chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Migratory Labor:
"In the 5 years since it was established in August of 1959, the Subcommittee on Migratory Labor has faced up to the fact that the migratory worker lives and works in conditions that must be recognized for what they are a national disgrace.
“But the subcommittee has also recognized that denunciations and dogma yield poor results. Without investing time and energy in adjudicating blame and responsibility, or pointing an accusatory finger at any group in our society, the subcommittee has used its resources and the deepening understanding of the problem by men of good will—to bring about these concrete accomplishments:
“Migrant Health Act. This historic breakthrough, enacted in 1962, has already put health clinics and other services at the disposal of workers in over 200 counties in 29 States and Puerto Rico.
“Crew Leader Registration. Farm labor contractors, the men who organize and lead work crews from State to State, have often been guilty of intentional or careless mistreatment and cheating of migrants. A new Federal law requires registration of the crew leader and more adequate reporting of his activities.
“VISTA (National Service Corps). Two years ago, the subcommittee encouraged volunteer workers to offer practical help to migratory workers and their families. Now, as part of the Office of Economic Opportunity, VISTA volunteers are being trained for service.
“Housing. Congress has approved a program that will provide clean, utilitarian housing to workers and their families, at rents they can afford. Additional migrant housing aids are provided under the war on poverty legislation.
“Education. Another provision of the war on poverty act offers help in providing both remedial and regular in-term schooling for the migrant workers' children, as well as basic adult education for the parents.
“Child Day Care. Young children of workers, often neglected while their families work in the field, can now be cared for properly during the day in centers set up under another subcommittee program finally enacted as part of the Economic Opportunity Act.
“Sanitation Facilities. Pure water supplies, safe waste disposal, and field sanitation facilities are a fourth area in which badly needed improvements are being made under the antipoverty program.
“Termination of Public Law 78. Under this law, many thousands of Mexican braceros entered this Nation every year and worked in the fields of 29 States. While this program persisted, there was no real hope of establishing decent and realistic standards for domestic farmworkers. The 88th Congress, refusing to temporize as previous Congresses had done, rejected all talk of extension and finally terminated this program.”
To the foregoing achievements listed by Senator Williams, we may perhaps be able before long to add another: the coverage of hundreds of thousands of farmworkers, including migrant workers, by the minimum wage provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The bill which would accomplish this, already passed by the House of Representatives (H.R. 13712), would establish minimum wages for agricultural workers of “not less than $1 an hour during the first year from the effective date of the Fair Labor Standards Amendments of 1966, not less than $1.15 an hour during the second year from such date, and not less than $1.30 an hour thereafter."
Prophecies of gloom and doom for the commercial farmer have attended this minimum wage proposal, as of course they have attended virtually all other Federal and State minimum wage proposals over the past three decades. What actual effect it will have, if enacted, upon consumer prices of fruits and vegetables remains to be seen. But the idea that prices must be kept down at the cost of human suffering and degradation is hardly cherished by anyone any longer. A decent minimum wage for every working man and woman is the order of the day and is one of the concrete steps necessary to substantial improvement of the lot of the migratory worker and his family.
All of these Federal laws and programs, and their implementation by local groups and communities, represent solid progress and offer antidotes for specific ailments in the migratory farmworker system. But, as Senator Williams points out, even with the accomplishments of these programs, “root causes of the misery remain almost untouched.”
We have mentioned that the average migrant in 1963 earned $657, or about $6 per day, for 110 days of farmwork. The migrant still can expect to be unemployed for as much as half of the year. He has, as yet, no national minimum wage. He has no Federal collective bargaining rights. Only one State-Hawaii-expressly provides him unemployment insurance.
State and Federal laws fail to protect his children against the dangers of child labor—in the third most hazardous industry in the United States. Much of the migrant's work earns him no social security insurance coverage.
Forty of the fifty States deny the migrant general welfare assistance unless—a contradiction in terms—the migrant can meet residence requirements of as long as 6 years. Full workmen's compensation coverage for the farmworker is required by only six States. Almost without exception, the migrants' mobility costs them their right to vote.
To quote Senator Williams once again:
“It is obvious that a man who earns less than $6 a day for sunup to sundown labor must be given a basic minimum wage for his work. And it is equally obvious that the farm labor recruiting and placement system must be made more effective not only for the benefit of labor, but for the aid of farm employers as they make the transition to a wholly domestic labor force."
Commissioner MALE. Thank you.
Dan Daly of New York will talk to us about the legislative needs and areas of protection for the agriculture worker.
DAN DALY, New York Department of Labor I heard quite a bit about what Frank said and, undoubtedly, my panel member here from California is going to say a lot also. So I am going to make my remarks quite brief so we may open it up for discussion. Frank has already told about the migrant's health. I would like to tell you about the New York State act. New York was one of the first to recognize the need of providing some sort of protection for our agricultural workers. In New York State, we had the first Migrant Registration Act, I believe. We also had the first Farm Labor Contractor Crew Leader Registration Act. We also were the first, too, to require payroll records, furnishing wage statements regulating child labor. Our wage payment law applied to migrant workers. We had very good health laws which were enforced by the Department of Health, not by the Department of Labor in the State of New York. Those health laws and sanitation laws are rigidly enforced. They concern construction of the buildings. They relate to fire protection: all new buildings must be fire resistant. There must be adequate exits, proper floor areas, proper living areas. There must be hot and cold water, sufficient bathing facilities, sufficient receptacles for garbage and refuse.
These laws are not only on the books, they are properly enforced. I do not mean that we go around in Gestapo fashion. We do things in a very reasonable way. We have a staff that right at this very moment is engaged in making physical inspections. We make approximately 5,000 visits to farm-labor camps where any farm-labor contractor is furnishing any services. We make sure that what he is required to do under our registration laws is carried out.
Why do we have these registration laws? First, I think if one of us came from a State, say New York, and went down to Florida and went to work there, we would like to know what would be the conditions of our employment. So in our registration we require information concerning the working conditions, wages, and type of work they are going to perform. We inquire as to whether there will be any charges for meals, lodgings, transportation. We inquire as to whether they will be furnished with workmen's compensation coverage, farmers' liability, who is going to pay the wages, when are they going to be paid. We do this to help to protect the migrant worker who really needs it. If we were to go into another State, we would want to know the conditions of our employment, and these poor people need our protection more so than one of us would need it if we were in the same position.
I could tell you how New York State assists these people in the collection of their wages. I could tell you what action we take as a result of finding these violations. We have fingerprint requirements for the farm-labor contractors who come into our State to make sure the person who is acting in such a capacity has not been convicted of any crime serious enough to warrant him not coming into the State. If he was convicted of such a crime, we can take proper action on it. We cannot deny him an application or a certificate of registration until he is afforded the opportunity of a hearing. We can get rid of his hearing in approximately 5 days from the date the violation is reported.
I wish I could say the same thing for the Federal Farm Labor Contractor Registration Act. By the time a person exhausts all rights he may have to appeal any decision of the hearing officer, there would be approximately 54 days by the time the final decision is made. By that time, the contractor could have left the area. We can take this action, as I say, within a week, and do.
I could tell you some of the other things that we do. But I much prefer to leave that time for discussion except to say this. I do feel that New York made some major improvements in our laws over the years.
Recently, we enacted the workmen's compensation law. It provides that the employer who has paid out $1,200 or more wages in the preceding calendar year must provide workmen's compensation coverage for agricultural workers.
You know, as well as I, that if we had a child going to work that we would want his health in such condition that he would be fit to do any work to which he may be assigned. So child labor laws are needed. I recommend them for your consideration. In fact, on child labor, many times you hear it said, “What harm is there in having a child go out and work on a farm ?" Well, there are many reasons why employment certificates are necessary. There are many occupations at which a child should not be employed. But, unfortunately, many of the laws—and it is true in New York State, too-relating to children under 16 operating prohibited machinery do not apply to the employment of a child on a farm, unless he is under 14 years of age. There are some operations on the farm that are very dangerous.
Here is an article from the Albany Union, dated July 24, 1966. It tells about a tractor turning over and the child losing his life. It is just as dangerous for an adult to operate as it is for a child. So we have no objection to the employment of children, providing it is within the framework of the laws that were enacted for their protection.
So I would recommend for your consideration registration laws that will provide each worker with some knowledge he should have about his employment conditions, keeping payroll records, furnishing wage statements, paying him weekly in accord with the agreement.
I think that workmen's compensation is very essential. I do not think the agricultural worker should be excluded from such coverage. Until such time as one of us really suffers the loss of a dear one will we really appreciate what workmen's compensation means. I happen to be in that position. My dad lost his life in an industrial accident when I was 2 years of age; and my mother had four children. We had to work hard throughout our lives. I dare say that if we had had the labor laws then that exist today, perhaps I would not have had some of the duties that I did as a child. I also realize that I learned a lot. That it is important for a person who is going to work in any position to see that he is given the opportunity not only to do the job, but also to do the job for which he is best fitted.
I would also like to say that in your consideration as to what legislation is needed you heard about the Federal minimum ro