Labor Day has new meaning for Colorado farmworkers

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As Colorado, we are fortunate to enjoy such exceptional local products. Right now, it couldn’t be more clear with our Palisade Peach, Sweet Corn from across the state, Rocky Ford Watermelon, Pueblo Chillies and more.

Labor Day has new meaning for Colorado farmworkers

State Sense. Jesse Danielson and Dominic Moreno
We are all proud of the multi-billion dollar agricultural industry in Colorado and the livestock, fruits, fiber, vegetables, dairy and eggs that it provides us. Indeed, as Americans we are fortunate to be able to go to the grocery store any day of the year and find shelves full of quality products and plenty of options.

On this Labor Day, we are grateful to the 40,000 Colorado farm laborers who spend their time growing, handling, picking, and transporting products that are expected to be the standard of our Colorado and American lifestyle.

But this year, these essential workers got more than our gratitude. Earlier this year, we were proud to sponsor and pass the Agricultural Workers' Rights Bill through the General Assembly - a new labor law that provides thousands of Colorado farm workers with the same labor rights as almost every other worker in our state. .

Historically, farm workers have been left out of the most basic issues of workplace protection, exploited for profit, and punished for speaking out about dangerous working conditions. For a very long time, these workers have been silenced and forced into dangerous circumstances without any protection and representation., We decided that was enough.

Because of our new law, Colorado farm workers are now guaranteed a minimum wage, overtime pay, the right to organize, clean water, adequate rest, health protection, safe working and living conditions, and protection from retaliation.

It also prohibits the use of short-handled dogs ક a symbol of cruelty and exploitation that is already illegal in Texas, California, Arizona, and New Mexico for its inhumane, unnecessary, and dangerous nature.

The Agricultural Workers' Rights Bill also includes protection for whistle blowers and farm workers who claim unsafe or unhealthy working conditions. Under the law, a farm laborer or relative may file a complaint of abuse with the Department of Labor Standards of the Department of Labor and Employment, which may result in further investigation or legal action. Without fear of losing their jobs, farm workers will be included in the conversation about improving their workplace as a partner rather than a pawn.

With the passage of the Agricultural Workers Bill of Rights, we begin to restore the dignity and respect that farm workers across Colorado deserve - and we can finally tell agricultural workers that we have our backs.

The shelves we stock in our grocery stores are a testament to the hard work of many in our food-supply chains and distribution systems. Undoubtedly, this is the hero of our grocery store to thank for this common luxury. What is often forgotten, however, are the people who work tirelessly to keep those shelves full.

As we enjoy time with our friends and family this holiday weekend, many of us will bake Colorado beef, enjoy olathe sweet corn, or serve countless other wonderful agricultural products by our state. But this year we can also take pride in knowing that this food will no longer be a product of exploitation of workers in Colorado.

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With these new laws, we brought new communities into the conversation, we worked for months with agribusiness owners and producers, and we gave a new voice to the people we worked with. We have begun to repair the damage and pain of decades, but we know that work does not stop here.

As we mark Labor Day weekend and honor energetic Colorado across the state, we should include workers who work hard to put that food on our table. We celebrate the Bill of Rights of Agricultural Workers that will protect them, and look to the future with a new commitment to advancing the rights of energetic Coloradians in every industry.

So the next time you stop to pick up some pieces at the grocery store, or buy a crate of potatoes, remember the people who bring us that food - 40,000 farm laborers in our state. They are the center of Colorado agriculture and the fabric of our culture - today, and every day, they deserve our thanks, respect and admiration.

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