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SCOTUS case could render farmworker rights ‘meaningless’

Media Contact

Rachel Rhodes

The Supreme Court will hear arguments Monday in a case challenging the constitutionality of a California regulation that allows union organizers access to agricultural property to speak to farmworkers. Two property owners allege that the regulation violates the Fifth Amendment right to compensation for property taken by the government.


Kati Griffith

Professor of Labor Relations, Law, and History

Kati Griffith, professor of labor relations, law and history at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, studies the intersection of immigration and workplace law and legal issues affecting low-wage workers.

Griffith says: 

“In a political compromise to gain favor from Southern politicians during the 1930s, farmworkers were excluded from basic New Deal protections for low-income workers. In 1975 California filled that gap by providing organizing and collective bargaining rights to farmworkers.  

“Access to farmworkers at their place of work is key to making workers aware of these rights and giving workers the tools to make these rights real. These rights are meaningless if workers do not know about them. If the Supreme Court sides with the company, this access would cease and other ways that the state accesses private property to ensure compliance with legal rules could be called into question.”

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