farmworker | Michigan Radio
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farmworker

He says he arrived in Michigan in March. He came from Mexico with a temporary farmworker visa. He spent his days working with plants in a greenhouse. At night, he lived in worker housing, sharing a room and sleeping in bunk beds.

A new lawsuit alleges workers were forced to work for months without pay at a green house in Monroe County.

They were temporary agriculture workers from Mexico, recruited under the H-2A visa program. They arrived in Michigan in early 2018 to work at Four Star Greenhouse, a company that sells potted plants under the Proven Winners brand. The lawsuit says when the workers complained about not receiving pay, they were set up in sting operation and deported back to Mexico.  

“The truth is that we left our small towns to make something better,” said Eduardo Reyes-Trujillo, a worker who spoke to Michigan Radio through an interpreter. “And for them to take advantage of us is not right.

The state is now requiring farmworker camp operators to space out beds and provide quarantine areas for sick workers.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order last week that required the changes. Under the order, beds must be kept at least six feet apart in farmworker camps. Thousands of workers each year stay in farmworker housing. The Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development says last year, the state averaged about six workers per housing unit.