Santiago Gonzalez, the owner of G Farms in El Mirage, Arizona, is accused of housing 70 Mexican immigrants in school buses and trailers, and not fully paying their wages, The Los Angeles Times reports.
All the workers were legally working at the location under the H-2A temporary visa, the U.S. Department of Labor said, which means Gonzalez was required by law to pay them fair wages and house them in proper living quarters. The workers, with duties that included cultivating and harvesting potatoes, watermelon, and onions, were required to work 40-hour weeks for $10.95 minimum hourly rate, but that was not the case.
Kristina Espinoza, a labor department investigator, told The Los Angeles Times that Gonzalez was paying the workers $0.13 to $0.70 per bag. She also described the farm as a “makeshift labor camp” that was “dangerous” and “unsanitary.”
The conditions of their “home” sound truly terrifying. The workers apparently showered in stalls that were inside a cargo container. They didn’t have a working sewage system, and had to share one toilet in the trailer or resort to using port-a-potties.
Gonzalez responded to the charges by placing the workers at two hotels. But just last week, an employee told the labor department that Gonzalez charged his own employees for staying at the hotel.
The U.S. Department of Labor has reported that H-2A visas have doubled in the past five years, due to the fact that there’s fewer Mexican immigrants coming to the United States.
[VIA: The Los Angeles Times]