Thursday, January 19, 2012
Monsanto contractor in Argentina nailed in slave-labor conditions in corn fields
by Larry Geller
Argentina’s tax agency has raided a Monsanto Co. contractor and found what it calls slave-like conditions among workers in its cornfields.
[Washington Post (AP), Argentine tax agency raids Monsanto contractor, finds slave-like conditions in cornfields, 1/17/2012]
As the AP article points out, in Argentina, farm workers are now entitled to an eight-hour day and benefits under a new law.
Hawaii passed a law last session belatedly aimed at eliminating the human trafficking of farm workers, but there has been no enforcement even of laws that already existed. Farm owners can avoid providing benefits (including medical care) to workers in Hawaii through loopholes built into the laws that protect other workers. The few actions taken against farm owners have been taken by federal authorities, not by the state.
Hawaii will likely see what has been billed as the largest human trafficking case in US history go to trial this year, filed by the Department of Justice against Global Horizons and individual defendants, three of whom have already pled guilty. The EEOC has filed civil suits against several farms in what it describes as the largest case in its own history. An earlier case filed against Aloun Farms never made it to the jury due to prosecutorial error discovered after the trial had been underway only a couple of days. Allegedly trafficked Thai farm workers have not seen a dime of compensation as yet.
The conditions described in the short AP article are similar to accusations raised in Hawaii. How long will it be before we straighten out our own shameful tolerance of slave-like labor conditions right here at home?