Migrant and Seasonal Farm Workers

Many migrant farm workers travel to Minnesota each year to help with the cultivating and harvesting of several crops in specific regions of the state. Other workers come in search of longer-term, higher-wage jobs in non-agricultural industries. Whether the job is on or off the farm, through our Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker Program we help farm workers and the employers who hire them.

In specially designated WorkForce Centers in key regions of the state, our Migrant Labor Representatives focus on helping farm workers find jobs and providing referrals to other community services. Because the vast majority of migrant workers farm workers are Hispanic, all of our labor reps are proficient in English and Spanish.

To learn more, view our bilingual brochure.

Labor Reps

Contact one of our Migrant Labor Representatives located throughout the state.

Faribault 
Genevieve Morales 
Faribault WorkForce Center 
Faribo Town Square 
201 Lyndale Avenue South, Suite 1 
Faribault, MN 55021 
Telephone: 507-333-2086

Mankato 
Janie Flores 
Mankato WorkForce Center 
12 Civic Center Plaza 
Mankato, MN 56001 
Telephone: 507-389-5774

Rochester 
Gloria Bostic
Telephone: 651-259-7513

Willmar 
Josefina Chavez 
Willmar WorkForce Center 
Kandiyohi County Health and Human Service Building 
2200 23rd Street NE, Suite 2040 
Willmar, MN 56201 
Telephone: 320-441-6575

Resources

Migrant farm workers frequently need referrals to other services. Here are some of the most requested services, along with contact information at the government agencies and nonprofit contractors that provide them.

Education Services

Motivation, Education & Training (MET) 
Willmar - 320.214.7172 
Owatonna - 507.446.0777

Minnesota Department of Education 
Tri-Valley Opportunity Council, Inc. 
P.O. Box 607 
Crookston, MN 56716 
218.281.5832

Tri-Valley Migrant & Seasonal Head Start 
Apple Valley Administrative Office 
14819 Energy Way 
Apple Valley, MN 55124 
1.800.890.4853

Health Services

Migrant Health Services Inc. 
810 4th Ave. South 
Moorhead, MN 56560 
218.236.6502 (clients only 800.842.8693)

MN Department of Health 
625 Robert St. N 
St. Paul, MN 55164-0975 
651.201.5000 or 888.345.0823

Worker Rights and Legal Matters

Migrant Legal Services 
651.291.2837 (clients only 800.652.9733)

Refugee, Immigrant, and Migrant Legal Services 
450 North Syndicate Street, Suite 325 
St. Paul, MN 55104 
651.291.2837 (clients only 800.652.9733) 
651.645.0597 (fax)

MN Department of Human Rights 
190 5th Street E 
St. Paul, MN 55101 
651.296.5663 or 800.657.3704

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission 
330 Second Avenue S 
Minneapolis, MN 55401-2224 
612.335.4040 or 800.669.4000

U.S. Department of Homeland Security 
Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services 
2901 Metro Drive 
Bloomington, MN 55425 
800.375.5283

Labor and Workplace Resources

Minnesota Department of Labor & Industry 
443 Lafayette Road N 
St. Paul, MN 55155-4307 
651.284.5005 or 1.800.342.5354 
OSHA - 651.284.5050

U.S. Department of Labor 
220 Second Street S 
Minneapolis, MN 55401 
612.370.3371 or 866.487.2365

U.S. Social Security Administration 
190 5th St. E 
St.Paul, MN 55101 
800.772.1213

Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker Protection Act

Government Agencies and Offices

FirstGov en Espa ol - The government's new Spanish-language information web portal links visitors to the entire spectrum of Spanish-language websites and web pages available from federal and state governments.

www.govbenefits.gov [English]

www.govbenefits.gov [Spanish/Espanol]

National Hotline for Migrants
800.234.8848

Minnesota United Way 211 Referrals and Information
800.543.7709

Worker Protection

The Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (MSPA) safeguards most migrant and seasonal agricultural workers in their interactions with farm labor contractors, agricultural employers, agricultural associations, and providers of migrant housing. However, some farm labor contractors, agricultural employers, agricultural associations, and providers of migrant housing are exempt from MSPA under limited circumstances.

The MSPA requires farm labor contractors, agricultural employers, and agricultural associations who recruit, solicit, hire, employ, furnish, transport, or house agricultural workers, as well as providers of migrant housing, to meet certain minimum requirements in their dealings with migrant and seasonal agricultural workers. These requirements include:

Farm labor contractor registration
Farm labor contractors (and any employee who performs farm labor contracting functions) must register with the Department of Labor before recruiting, soliciting, hiring, employing, furnishing, or transporting any migrant or seasonal agricultural worker. Agricultural employers and associations (and their employees) need not register as farm labor contractors.

An agricultural employer or association using the services of a farm labor contractor must first verify the registration status of the farm labor contractor. This process includes determining that the contractor is properly authorized for all activities he or she will undertake. To verify registration status call 1-866-4USWAGE.

Employment Relationship
Under certain circumstances, the Department of Labor may determine that an agricultural employer or association that uses the services of a farm labor contractor is a joint employer of the agricultural workers furnished by the farm labor contractor. In joint employment situations, the agricultural employer or association is equally responsible with the farm labor contractor for compliance with employment-related MSPA obligations, such as the proper payment of wages.

Disclosure
Each migrant and seasonal day-haul worker must receive a written disclosure at the time of recruitment that describes the terms and conditions of his or her employment. When offering employment, the employer must provide such disclosure to all seasonal workers upon request. The disclosure must be written in the worker's language. The employer must also post in a conspicuous place at the job site a poster setting forth the rights and protections that MSPA affords workers. A housing provider must post or present to each worker a statement of the terms and conditions of occupancy.

Information and Recordkeeping
Each farm labor contractor, agricultural employer, or association that employs any agricultural worker must maintain payroll records for each worker showing the basis on which wages were paid, the number of piecework units earned, the number of hours worked, the total pay for each pay period, the amounts and reasons for any deductions, and the net pay.

The employer must provide all workers with these itemized statements and must preserve these records for three years. If a farm labor contractor is performing the payroll function, the contractor must provide a copy of the pay records to the person to whom the workers are furnished (e.g., agricultural employer or association), and that person must keep the records for three years. No farm labor contractor, agricultural employer, or association may knowingly provide false or misleading information to a worker about employment or the terms and conditions of employment.

Wages, Supplies and Working Arrangements
Each person employing agricultural workers must pay all wages owed when due. Farm labor contractors, agricultural employers, and associations are prohibited from requiring workers to purchase goods or services solely from such contractor, employer, or association, or any person acting as an agent for such a person. In addition, no farm labor contractor, agricultural employer, or association may violate the terms of the working arrangement without adequate justification.

Safety and Health of Housing
Each person who owns or controls housing provided to migrant agricultural workers must ensure that the facility complies with the federal and state safety and health standards covering that housing. Migrant housing may not be occupied until it has been inspected and certified to meet these safety and health standards. The certification of occupancy must be posted at the site.

Transportation Safety
Each vehicle used to transport migrant or seasonal agricultural workers must be properly insured and operated by a properly licensed driver. Each such vehicle must also meet federal and state safety standards.

Employer Protections
Farm labor contractors must comply with the terms of any written agreement they make with an agricultural employer or association.

Enforcement
The Wage and Hour Division of the Employment Standards Administration enforces MSPA. During a MSPA investigation, Wage and Hour investigators may enter and inspect premises (including vehicles and housing), review and transcribe payroll and other records, and interview employers and employees.

Employee Rights
The MSPA provides migrant agricultural workers and day-haul seasonal agricultural workers the right to receive written notice of the terms and conditions of their employment when recruited; it provides seasonal workers the right to receive such notification upon the worker's request. The MSPA also requires employers of migrants and seasonal agricultural workers to adhere to the disclosed terms and conditions of employment. Certain exemptions and exclusions apply to these provisions.

The MSPA also gives migrant and seasonal agricultural workers the right to file a complaint with the Wage and Hour Division, file a private lawsuit under the Act (or cause a complaint or lawsuit to be filed), or testify or cooperate with an investigation or lawsuit in other ways without being intimidated, threatened, restrained, coerced, blacklisted, discharged, or discriminated against in any manner.

Compliance Assistance
More detailed information, including explanatory brochures and regulatory and interpretative materials, may be obtained from the Wage and Hour Division's Web site or by contacting your local Wage and Hour Division office. Information about farm labor contractor applications is available from the nearest State Workforce Agency office (1-866-4-USA-DOL) or your Wage and Hour Division office. For additional compliance assistance, contact the Wage and Hour Division help line at 1-866-4USWAGE.

Penalties and Sanctions
Violations of MSPA may result in civil money penalties, back wage assessments, and revocations of certificates of registration. Violations may also result in civil or criminal actions instituted by the Department of Labor against any person found in violation of the Act. Civil money penalties up to $1,000 may be assessed for each violation. Criminal conviction for first time violators may result in one year in prison and a $1,000 fine; repeat convictions can result in up to three years in prison and $10,000 in fines. In addition, individuals whose MSPA rights have been violated may seek civil money damages in federal court.

Farm Contractors

Often questions arise whether a crew leader or labor contractor is considered the employer of the workers he or she provides. Here are some guidelines as set out in the Code of Federal Regulations.

Whether a crew leader or a labor contractor is the employer of the workers he supplies is a question of fact. The tests here are the same as those used to determine whether a sharecropper or tenant is an independent contractor.

A crew leader who merely assembles a crew and brings them to the farm to be supervised and paid directly by the farmer, and who does the same work and receives the same pay as the crew members, is an employee of the farmer, and both he and his crew are counted as such and paid accordingly if the farmer is not exempt under the 500 man-day test. The situation is not significantly different if under the same circumstances, the crew is hired at so much per acre for their work. This is in effect a group piecework arrangement.

The situation is different where the farmer only establishes the general manner for the work to be done. Where this is the case, the labor contractor is the employer of the workers if he makes the day-to-day decisions regarding the work and has an opportunity for profit or loss through his supervision of the crew and its output. As the employer, he has the authority to hire and fire the workers and direct them while working in the fields.

Complaints by the farmer about the quality or quantity of the work or about a worker are made to the contractor or his representatives, who takes whatever action he deems appropriate. His opportunity for profit or loss comes from his control over the time and manner of performance of work by his crew and his authority to determine the wage rates paid to his workers.

There is also the common and general practice of an individual who performs custom work such as crop dusting or grain harvesting and threshing or sheep shearing. In the typical case this contractor has a substantial investment in equipment and his business decisions and judgments materially affect his opportunity for profit or loss. In the overall picture, the contractor is not following the usual path of an employee, but that of an independent contractor.

For example: A sheep shearing contractor who operates in the following manner is considered an independent contractor and therefore an agricultural employer in his own right--he operates his own equipment including power supply from his own trucks or trailers, boards his shearing crew and has complete responsibility for their work and compensation, has complete charge of the sheep from the time they enter the shearing pen until they are shorn and turned out, and contracts with the rancher for the complete operation at an agreed rate per head.

Whether or not a labor contractor or crew leader is found to be a bona fide independent contractor, his employees are considered jointly employed by him and the farmer who is using their labor if the farmer has the power to direct, control or supervise the work, or to determine the pay rates or method of payment. (Hodgson v. Okada (C.A. 10), 20W.H. Cases 1107; Hodgson v. Griffin & Brand (C.A. 5) 20 W.H. Cases 1051;

Mitchell v. Hertzke, 234 F. 2d 183, 12 W.H. Cases 877 (C.A. 10).) In a joint employment situation, the man-days of agricultural labor rendered are counted toward the man-days of such labor of each employer. Each employer is considered equally responsible for compliance with the Act.

With respect to the recordkeeping regulations in 29 CFR 516.33, the employer who actually pays the employees will be considered primarily responsible for maintaining and preserving the records of hours worked and employees' earnings specified in paragraph (c) of Sec. 516.33 of this chapter.

[37 FR 12084, June 17, 1972, as amended at 38 FR 27521, Oct. 4, 1973]

Sanitation

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published regulations on field sanitation that require portable toilets, drinking water, and hand washing facilities to protect the safety and health of migrant and seasonal farm workers.

The regulations apply to any agricultural employer having eleven (11) or more employees engaged on any given day in hand-labor field operations.

Since health hazards are involved, the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) developed procedures to assist OSHA with the implementation of the regulations by providing for an improved coordination enforcement program. Included would be the prompt referral of possible violations of the Field Sanitation Standards to OSHA.

This standard will be enforced under the Job Service Complaint System which will include responsibility for detection of violation and field checks of work sites where JS placement have been made under the intra or interstate job order clearance system.

Job Service staff shall record in writing any complaint by a MSFW concerning a violation of field sanitation regulations. The complaint will be logged and immediately referred to the State Monitor Advocate. The JS staff member taking such complaint shall inform the farmworker of the action taken and provide monthly follow-up on the complaint until it has been resolved.

Whenever a Job Service staff member observes or has reason to believe there is a violation of field sanitation regulation, the apparent violation shall be referred to the office manager. The office manager or migrant labor representative will attempt informal resolution with the employer and record the complaint under current reporting procedures.

Where placements have been made under the job order clearance system Job Service staff will conduct field checks at a significant number of work sites. Job Service staff conducting these checks shall highlight any possible field sanitation violations and refer them to the State Monitor Advocate.

Contact

For more information, contact:

Gloria Bostic  
State Monitor Advocate/Consumer Affairs Specialist (Se habla español)  
1st National Bank Building  
332 Minnesota Street, Suite E200  
Saint Paul, MN 55101-1351  
Telephone: 651.259.7513  
Email: Gloria.Bostic@state.mn.us