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In Defense of Farm Labor Contractors

October 08, 1993

* I read with extreme interest the Sept. 19 article by Fred Alvarez concerning farm labor contractors.

I was pleased to see that Ventura County was only fined $4,000 in proposed fines as compared to the several hundreds of thousands of dollars which have been assessed since February, 1992, under the TIPP Program. It is obvious that Ventura County agriculture clearly stands out among the remaining agricultural production areas of the state for purposes of compliance with state labor and safety laws. This is due in great part to the efforts of such organizations as the Ventura County Agricultural Assn. and the local Ventura County Farm Bureau which have worked closely with all of its members to ensure proper compliance with the state and federal wage and safety laws.

After reading the article, however, one must ask the question as to why CRLA is vociferously pursuing destruction of a valuable and integral part of the state's agricultural industry. The answer is quite clear.

In a recent article, "Cesar's Ghost," in the July edition of California Lawyer, Jose Padilla, CRLA's executive director, says "If the CRLA had the political power to do it, we would destroy the farm labor contractor system . . . "

As the official sponsors of AB 90 in the California Legislature, the CRLA, with the support of the United Farmworkers of America, AFL/CIO and the California Trial Lawyers Assn., is pushing the Legislature to impose strict liability upon farm operators and agricultural employers who retain the services of farm labor contractors for any violations of state, minimum wage and health and safety laws. No other industry is subject to such requirements.

At a time when the UFW's organization of California farm workers is at an all-time low and the CRLA's operating budget coffers still lower, it should be clear to the citizens of this state that the campaign to destroy California's farm labor contractor system is little more than a political agenda for the CRLA and the UFW.



Robert Roy is president and general counsel of the Ventura County Agricultural Assn.

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