Latino Farm Workers In Michigan Challenge Ruling From Virus Case
Michigan agricultural operations and Latino farmworkers are appealing a federal court ruling that went against their claims of discrimination against the state. The case is now advancing to the regional 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. The federal lawsuit challenges an order from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services that singles out Latino farmworkers for COVID-19 testing. The suit claims the state is unconstitutionally discriminating against Latinos. The growers and farm workers filed their lawsuit jointly since their work is intertwined. The suit also claims the farmworkers are being harmed by requiring them to be tested for the virus and failure to do so means a loss of income, and in many cases, their temporary housing here in Michigan along with it. The Michigan Farm News reports one of the feared impacts of a ruling favoring the state is already happening. Farmworkers are walking off their jobs here in Michigan.
The head of the Michigan Blueberry Commission is telling the media division of the Michigan Farm Bureau that one grower saw the farm’s entire farmworker crew leave the site the day of the court ruling last week. Another reports losing more than 2 dozen farmworkers the same day. Rob Anderson is the Michigan Farm Bureau Manager of Government Relations. He says the estimated 75,000 farmworkers in Michigan were supposed to have all been tested by Monday and can’t legally work until they have test results showing they have not contracted the virus. There’s no word yet how many actually got tested. But Anderson says many now report their crews are packing up and leaving. They’re looking for work in other industries, or other states where they aren’t being singled out as a group for state-ordered testing. The impact on the upcoming major fruit harvests is totally up in the air.