Black farm workers sue employer for giving more job opportunities, higher wages to white foreign workers

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SUNFLOWER COUNTY, MS – Six black Mississippi farm workers have filed a lawsuit against a farm employer for favoring white South African workers with more job opportunities and higher wages.

The lawsuit was filed in United States District Court, Northern District of Mississippi, in September 2021 by attorneys from the Mississippi Center for Justice and Southern Migrant Legal Services.  It names Pitt Farms Partnership, a grower of cotton, soybeans, and corn in the Mississippi Delta’s Sunflower County, as the defendant.

In part, the lawsuit points to abuse of the H-2A visa program, which the Center for Global Development describes as a:

“nonimmigrant visa program that allows US employers to bring foreign nationals to the US to fill low-skill, temporary or seasonal agricultural jobs for which US workers are not available [emphasis added by this writer].”

Workers under this visa program can work for a U.S. employer for up to 10 months before returning to their home country, and they may renew and return in successive years.  

Employers are required to provide those foreign workers with “clean and safe housing,” as well as cover the costs of transportation to and from the workers’ country of origin.

The lawsuit points out that Pitts Farm, as an employer, was legally permitted to import foreign workers only in the event that:

“the U.S. Department of Labor (‘DOL’) certifies that there are insufficient available workers within the U.S. to perform the job and the employment of foreign workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly-situated U.S. workers.”

Further, the suit notes that an employer “must offer to U.S. workers no less than the same benefits, wages and working conditions the employer offers or provides to H-2A workers.”

On behalf of the plaintiffs, the suit contends that Pitts Farm did not meet these conditions, despite claims to the contrary in their H-2A applications.

Four of the plaintiffs had been regularly and annually employed by Pitts for seasonal agricultural labor from February through November, and the remaining two were regularly employed for seasonal truck driving from July through November.

The suit contends that the four agricultural workers have only been paid $7.25 per hour since July of 2009, and the truck drivers were paid $9.00 per hour since 2018.

In sharp contrast, the suit goes on to say, the “white foreign workers” enjoyed greater, and increasing, compensation over the years, starting at $9.87 per hour in 2014, and increasing to $11.83 per hour in 2020.

Summarizing this wage situation, the suit states:

“PFP intentionally paid its Black workforce less than its white foreign workers for the same or similar work. 

“The white foreign workers were also given other benefits not provided to Plaintiffs and other Black domestic workers.”

Indeed, in accordance with the H-2A regulations, employer Pitts Farm provided housing “free of charge” to workers on the H-2A visa.

The lawsuit contends that this housing “was in far better condition than the housing provided to [plaintiff] Mr. [Richard] Strong,” who rented housing from Pitts Farm that:

“was in bad condition: infested with rats, and lacking window screens. 

“The wood was worn and rotted, which allowed birds to enter the house through the attic.”

In addition, the lawsuit points out that Strong’s “rental charges exceeded the actual cost of these facilities and included a profit to PFP,” and the rent that was deducted from his paycheck meant that Strong took home far less than minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

Strong and another plaintiff, Andrew Johnson, also found themselves replaced by white H-2A workers at a time when they were qualified for the farm work and willing and available to do so – also a violation of the H-2A requirements to prove that local workers are not available.

The lawsuit also notes that plaintiff Wesley Reed in 2020 actually requested Pitts Farm to pay him at the same rate as the H-2A foreign workers, only to be told “PFP could not afford to give raises as they had several South Africans who would be arriving soon who needed to be paid at a higher rate.”

In addition, truck driver plaintiffs Stacy Griffin and James Simpson were given reduced hours for the 2020 season, whereas “white H-2A workers” were given more hours.

In addition to apparent racial disparities in how the plaintiffs were treated in terms of wages and job opportunities, the lawsuit also calls out Pitts Farm for overt racism expressed by white supervisors, stating:

“Throughout the Plaintiffs’ employment for the Pitts family, the Pitts employed a supervisor who had the authority to hire and fire domestic workers, and who provided Plaintiffs, and other farmworkers, with their daily job duties. 

“This supervisor was always white. 

“Occasionally, the supervisor used racial slurs, including the n-word. Pitts Farms was informed about the supervisor’s use of racial slurs and did nothing.”

 

For plaintiff Richard Strong, agricultural work is a family tradition, stretching back over many generations, to his once-enslaved ancestors.

After recounting how he trained the South African workers, only to find their wages far outpacing his, he told the New York Times:

“I never did imagine that it would come to the point where they would be hiring foreigners, instead of people like me.”

He added:

“It’s like being robbed of your heritage.”

Attorney Ty Pinkins of the Mississippi Center for Justice, echoed Strong’s sentiments, saying:

“Black workers have been doing this work for generations.”

He added:

“They know the land, they know the seasons, they know the equipment.”

Pinkins, in an interview with BNC, commented further on Pitts Farm’s “racism at play,” saying:

“We have local black farm workers driving a tractor in a field at the same time where you have foreign white South Africans driving in that same field, and those white South Africans are making more than the people who trained them to do their job.”

Referring to the extra effort, such as increased wages and the systematic hiring of whites only, that Pitts Farm must have gone to to hire white foreign workers, Pitkins added:

“The racial dynamic, the reason why they will jump through so many hoops in order to hire white South Africans, instead of hiring local workers, especially given the poverty rate and the unemployment rate in the area, that’s something that Pitts Farms are going to have to answer in litigation.”

Pitts Farms did not respond to the Associated Press’ requests for comment on the lawsuit.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration has just recently expanded the H-2A visa program.

According to the DHS, as of November 9, 2021, six additional countries have been made eligible, bringing the total of countries involved in the program to 85.

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Droney: Fact checkers “spinning” out of control over “context” after Biden’s latest comment about black men

Originally published November 14, 2021

The following contains editorial content which is the opinion of the author. 

WASHINGTON, DC- “He’s the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy”

”If you don’t know whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black”…”Unless we do something about this, my children are going to grow up in a jungle, the jungle being a racial jungle…”

These are Joe Biden’s greatest (racist) hits.

Not to be outdone, this week bumbling Biden once again stepped in it. On Veteran’s Day, Biden was at Arlington National Cemetery where he was attempting to give a speech, and where he once again stepped in it.

“…And I just want to tell you, I know you’re a little younger than I am, but, you know, I’ve adopted the attitude of the great Negro—at the time, pitcher in the Negro Leagues—went on to become a great pitcher in the pros—in the Major League Baseball after Jackie Robinson. His name was Satchel Paige.”

Negro? Now the old Negro Leagues use that name because that was in fact what they were called. However using the term to refer to blacks hasn’t been done in we would guess maybe 50 years? Perhaps more?

Of course once old Joe stepped in it (again), Operation Fact Check went into full-force, with the usual suspects such as Snopes and PolitiFact engaging their army of pimple-faced, basement dwelling, Hot Pocket-eating army of “fact-checkers” to throw cover for Biden.

As Red State noted, this all went into effect “when members of the media hit the Code Red button” to once again put out the word that Biden tripped over his tongue again and needed to be bailed out.

Within a matter of less than a day, the Biden protection machine had jumped on board, fact-checking people who posted the story online on social media or media outlets who reported on what the bumbling boob had said this time, claiming the reports “lacked context.”

In fact, PolitiFact laughably tried to justify Biden’s comment by claiming it was related to his oft-times convenient “stuttering” problem.

Red State said Twitter jumped into Operation Protect the Clueless by posting in their “events” section about the so-called “lack of context” in the Biden comment.

“Edited clips of Joe Biden’s remarks about black baseball player Satchel Paige lack some context, fact-checkers say.”

Of course, these are the same “fact checkers” who refuse to allow facts about matters from the Kyle Rittenhouse shooting in Kenosha to the efficacy of some therapeutics in treating COVID. In other words, they should more likely be referred to as “opinion checkers.”

Twitter also added to the hilarity in that when someone clicked on the Twitter “events” link, not only did you get the “fact check” admonition, but you also learned that “The following may contain sensitive material.”

“Sensitive? As mentioned above, the term “negro” hasn’t been used in decades with the exception of describing the aforementioned baseball league in which black men played.

As Red State noted, the term “negro” became socially unacceptable sometime in the 1960s. But really, sensitive?

Probably most people reading or hearing Biden’s remarks laughed it off either as “Joe being Joe” or “man this guy is totally shot.” Now if it was Trump, he’d be halfway to being impeached. Biden? He’s just a lovable old dufus.

And what of say CNN? Well they were too busy finding something to criticize Judge Bruce Schroeder, who is presiding over the Kyle Rittenhouse trial.

The mainstream media is not happy with Schroeder because he has actually run a fair trial and isn’t pushing for the 18-year-old to go to the pokey for the rest of his life.

Schroeder has been especially hard on the prosecution, which is not setting well with the leftist mainstream media, never mind the fact that the prosecution has been an abject joke.

What had CNN reporters’ panties in a bunch? Well apparently the judge made a comment before lunch about the delivery of “Asian” food ordered for him and court personnel. “Asian” food? Well, it was. So of course, CNN sought out people who would be offended by the judge’s comment, and of course they weren’t disappointed.

Hey, wait a minute…back to Biden’s “negro” comment. Surely CNN’s resident “fact-checker” Daniel Dale must have had an opinion on his statement, no? According to Red State, he had not as yet finished conducting his “forensic analysis” of Biden’s comments in order to find an excuse for Biden’s latest faux pas.

Maybe Brian “Helter” Stelter, affectionately known in these parts as Humpty Dumpty can provide some stellar analysis on his poorly-named and barely-watched show “Reliable Sources” on CNN. We’ll wait.

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Editor note: In 2020, we saw a nationwide push to “defund the police”.  While we all stood here shaking our heads wondering if these people were serious… they cut billions of dollars in funding for police officers.  And as a result, crime has skyrocketed – all while the same politicians who said “you don’t need guns, the government will protect you” continued their attacks on both our police officers and our Second Amendment rights.

And that’s exactly why we’re launching this national crowdfunding campaign as part of our efforts to help “re-fund the police”.

For those looking for a quick link to get in the fight and support the cause, click here.

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