Ong Presses for Protections for Undocumented Farmworkers

Paul Ong, research professor and director of the Center for Neighborhood Knowledge, spoke to the Los Angeles Times about the importance of coronavirus protections for undocumented farmworkers. Many of California’s farmworkers are undocumented, lack health insurance and don’t qualify for unemployment insurance or federal coronavirus relief. Ong said that undocumented farmworkers have been marginalized for decades through depressed wages and by being denied the safety net of programs such as unemployment insurance. A study by the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies found that a majority of California voters support labor protections for farmworkers, such as paid sick leave, medical benefits and replacement wages if they contract the coronavirus. Ong said most Californians understand that farmworkers are critical in times of crisis. “At this time, they’re taking a huge risk by continuing to work so that the food chain is not broken,” he said.

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