How about a little bit of objectivity when it comes to farm operators that deprive hard-working farmworkers of the minimum wage? Your editorial, “It’s time for DOL to pay up” (Sept. 25), shows no sympathy for farmworkers who are just scraping by on meager wages and are ripped off by their employers.

You also misrepresent what happened by calling it “extortion.” These employers were told by the Department of Labor that it found violations of workers’ rights. The department can take several actions and employers can contest those actions. The department is permitted to go to federal court and ask a federal judge to issue an injunction to temporarily hold up the sale or shipment of goods that were produced in violation of the law. The farm operators can have their day in court.

In these cases, there was no “extortion.” The growers decided to settle the controversy by paying tens of thousands of dollars to numerous underpaid farmworkers. Much later, the growers decided they wished they had not settled. So they asked the court to be allowed to renege on the settlement and re-open the case so that it could be litigated.

Meanwhile, some of the workers were reimbursed for their losses, as they should have been under the settlement, while others undoubtedly have moved on and may never be found to be given their lost earnings. So now the growers will have their day in court for a judge or jury to decide whether the farmworkers were underpaid. Stop misrepresenting what happened to attack the Department of Labor’s efforts to enforce the few employment laws that protect farmworkers.

Bruce Goldstein

President,

Farmworker Justice

Washington, D.C.

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