Farmworker Perceptions of Work Safety, Work Hours, and Living Conditions

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2021-02-10

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Abstract

Farmworkers are integral to the functioning of society in the US. Farmworkers are invisible heroes, and they deserve their voices to be heard, their experiences to be shared, and their perspectives to be intentionally incorporated into policymaking. Migrant farmworkers in North Carolina are guaranteed rights under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, and the NC Migrant Housing Act. These acts define farmworker work safety conditions, work hours and compensation, and living conditions. This paper investigates farmworker perspectives of these three acts through analyzation of 16 semi-structured interviews done with farmworkers in eastern North Carolina. NVivo was used to analyze the interviews and identify major themes that inform farmworkers’ perspectives of the manifestation of the three acts in their workplace. Lack of knowledge and training of rights was found to be one of the main factors contributing to farmworkers’ perspectives. Fear of grower retaliation was discovered to be a significant deterrent against reporting violations. The lack of an effective, reliable, and accessible violation reporting mechanism that protects the complainant was also found to influence farmworkers’ exertion of their rights. These results imply that farmworkers do not have adequate levels of awareness or understanding of their rights so there is a lack of demand for improved conditions. Increased farmworker training of their rights combined with an effective, reliable, and accessible violation reporting mechanism may help ensure that farmworkers will be able to exercise their rights without fear.

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Doherty, Caroline (2021). Farmworker Perceptions of Work Safety, Work Hours, and Living Conditions. Honors thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/22447.


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