Michigan Farm Bureau should continue to inform the public about agricultural employment and the economic contributions farm labor makes to the local and state economies, and correct widespread misconceptions about farm labor conditions.
Michigan does not have a labor relations law for farm workers that establishes the parameters for conducting union representation elections and labor contract negotiations. Farm workers have begun to use basic contract law as the basis for achieving successful labor agreements.
The lack of an agricultural labor relations law allows union organizers of farm workers an exceptional advantage by allowing consumer and secondary boycotts of perishable farm commodities. We are not opposed to removing the agricultural labor exemption from the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and prefer this action over enactment of a state agricultural labor relations act.
We call for legislation to protect the rights of the workers, farmers and consumers against the loss of crops during labor disputes. While we are opposed to a separate agricultural labor relations board, we believe a separate counsel and staff, cognizant and understanding of the challenges of agriculture, should be designated if the agriculture exemption to the NLRA is stricken. Such legislation should:
In lieu of such legislation, we support legislation to grant each state the option of being covered by the NLRA.
The family farm exemption in the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Workers Protection Act is being eroded by the expansion of the terms “recruitment” and “transportation.” We oppose the inclusion of gratuitous referrals and transportation in the course of employment when the vehicle is not driven by a family member, in the determination of whether the family farm exemption applies.
We support the standardization of the definition of agriculture and farm work for all state/federal labor-related legislation to include the work activity described by the North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS), sector 11.
The NAICS code reflects modern agriculture practices and is now used by the agricultural census and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health as the description more accurately reflects current agricultural organizational structures.
We uphold the right of farm workers to join, not join, or resign from a union by their own convictions.
We oppose efforts by purchasers of farm commodities to force farmers to legally recognize and negotiate with specific labor organizations. We oppose purchasers of farm commodities enticing farm workers to join unions by paying the union dues for the workers.
We strongly oppose third party organization attempts to force organized labor negotiations between farmers and farm workers.
MFB will continue to investigate a fee-based service to obtain qualified interpreters for use during Department of Labor inspections and other purposes. MFB’s Agricultural Labor and Safety Services publishes a guide listing rights and responsibilities for employers and employees before and during these inspections.
MFB should continue participating in recruiting efforts to ensure an adequate and legal agricultural work force in Michigan. Recruiting methods and programs currently being used should be evaluated for effectiveness. Efforts should be ongoing to more effectively encourage workers to come to Michigan.
We support the concept of an inmate vocational training program in cooperation with Michigan Works or other educational institutions to provide non-violent inmates the skills to be reintroduced to the work force through the agricultural industry.
We support MFB efforts through the Great Lakes Ag Labor Services to assist growers in navigating the cumbersome H-2A program. We encourage expansion into other viable visa worker programs. We support this program continuing as a “user pays” system and available to all MFB members.
The State Workforce Agency should only refer legally authorized workers to H-2A employers.
We support expanded opportunities for employment of young people in agricultural operations.