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Courts dismiss growers’ effort to block Michigan’s public health order providing free COVID-19 testing for farm workers

Federal Judge Paul L. Maloney of the Western District of Michigan has approved dismissal of an agribusiness lawsuit attempting to halt the emergency state public health order protecting Michigan farm workers from the novel coronavirus by requiring testing of farm workers for COVID-19.

The growers’ move to voluntarily dismiss their litigation comes days after Michigan’s Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the agricultural industry’s motion for a preliminary injunction and after the court considered a “friend of the court” or amicus brief filed on Aug. 27 by a coalition of worker advocates, community organizations, labor unions and public health experts on behalf of farm and other workers in Michigan and nationwide. The Michigan Immigrant Rights Center (MIRC), United Farm Workers, the UFW Foundation and coalition partners will continue to fight for more protections for farm workers —an essential workforce that keeps the State of Michigan and America fed. Farm workers need paid sick leave, hazard pay, better access to unemployment insurance, better housing conditions and overtime pay.

“The voluntary dismissal of the case by plaintiffs demonstrates their equal protections claims were baseless and would not prevail,” said MIRC’s Supervising Attorney Diana Marin. “The hard work of protecting farm workers and the food supply in Michigan does not end here. MIRC will continue to monitor the order’s implementation and will work with our community partners to undo the harm the agricultural industry-backed lawsuit has caused, specifically the spread of misinformation and fear regarding the order’s requirements.”

“The UFW Foundation is pleased that this litigation backed by the Michigan Farm Bureau has been dismissed,” said UFW Foundation Executive Director Diana Tellefson Torres. “Our Michigan-based staff members will continue informing farm workers about their rights and we will continue to advocate for the protections that farm workers in Michigan and across the U.S. urgently need.”

“Growers voluntarily dismissed their litigation against Michigan’s emergency public health order because it’s inhumane and had no chances at winning,” said United Farm Workers President Teresa Romero. “For the health of agricultural communities, the UFW is satisfied the agribusiness’ disturbing attempt to block Michigan’s public health order has been put to rest.”