By Erin Robinson , Ha T. Nguyen , Scott Isom , Sara A. Quandt , Joseph G. Grzywacz , Haiying Chen , Thomas A. Arcury
Newswise — Not only are migrant farm workers in North Carolina often exposed to hazardous pesticides that are damaging to their health, but a new study from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center finds that many of these same workers also face wage violations.
The study, conducted by researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, found that nearly 20 percent of all farm workers in North Carolina had experienced wage violations in their work and many didn’t even make minimum wage. The study also found an association between wage violations and pesticide safety regulation violations. In fact, two thirds of farm workers had not been provided with required pesticide safety training, and only half were informed when pesticides had been applied to the fields where they worked.
Farmworkers have the potential to receive wages that fail to meet minimum wage standards. This analysis describes wages and minimum wage violations among farmworkers, and it determines associations of wage violations with personal characteristics and pesticide safety regulation violations. Data are from a cross-sectional survey of 300 eastern North Carolina farmworkers conducted in June through August, 2009. Most farmworkers (90.0%) were paid by the hour, but 11.7 percent received piece-rate pay. Wage violations were prevalent among farmworkers: 18.3 percent of all farmworkers, 45.3 percent of farmworkers without H-2A visas, and 3.6 percent of farmworkers with H-2A visas experienced wage violations. Most farmworkers experienced numerous pesticide safety violations. Personal characteristics were not associated with wage violations among farmworkers without H-2A visas, but some pesticide safety violations were associated with wage violations. The association of violations indicates that some growers generally violate regulations. Greater enforcement of all regulations is needed.
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