Ranchers File Lawsuit to Abolish Workers’ Rights in Colorado

Denver (CO), June 27 (EFE) .- An influential coalition of 13 Colorado farmer and rancher organizations filed a lawsuit on Monday calling for the abolition of a state law, approved last year and which came into force this year, that gives local farmworkers rights, including fair pay and the right to strike.

The Colorado Coalition of Rural Employers (CCRE) asserts that SB21-087 violates the rights of farmers and ranchers because it requires “key service providers” for farmworkers to be allowed unannounced entry onto their properties.

Among these “suppliers” are doctors, priests, lawyers and union representatives who arrive at the call of the workers or to speak with them.

Building on a 2021 Supreme Court decision that struck down a California law that allowed farmworkers to create their own unions or join existing unions, the CCRE says in its lawsuit that allowing service providers access It is equivalent to endorsing “invasion of property”.

“As farm and ranch owners, we have a duty to protect our staff and our families. And also prevent those who visit our farms and ranches from being hurt, ”the CCRE said in a statement announcing the filing of the lawsuit in a federal court in Colorado.

That means, the document points out, preventing “crop contamination,” something that could happen if service providers don’t adhere “to the strict standards that the government and industry” impose on farms and ranches. Those directives, the coalition believes, are “incompatible with people loitering on our properties.”

The lawsuit does not address other requirements of SB21-087, sponsored by Democratic lawmakers Dominick Moreno and Yadira Caraveo, which prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who report them and requires those employers to pay overtime (i.e., all work above 40 hours per week).

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The law also requires that employees be given adequate time to eat and rest, and be provided access to transportation and housing. And the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) is named as the entity in charge of supervising compliance with SB21-087.

So far, the CDLE has not commented on the lawsuit, but a “final rules” document on the new law issued on June 24 did not include a requirement to allow “service providers” to enter unannounced due to because the same law stipulates that these visits will take place “without interfering with other people.”

In addition, the law anticipates adjustments and modifications between now and 2025 to have sufficient data on its impact on small farms and ranches and the hiring of temporary personnel at that time.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, some 39,000 farms and ranches operate in Colorado, employing some 170,000 people, with 52% white employees and 38% Hispanics (80% of them immigrants). EFE


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