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Michigan’s public health order requiring free testing for ag workers ‘imperative’ for their health; industry lawsuit is ‘cynical ploy’

UFW Foundation Executive Director Diana Tellefson Torres, UFW President Teresa Romero, Farmworker Legal Services Managing Attorney Kara Moberg, and Michigan Immigrant Rights Center Managing Attorney Susan Reed issued this statement following in support of Michigan’s public health order for free COVID-19 testing for agricultural and food employees:

The public health order issued on August 3, 2020, by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services requiring free COVID-19 testing and safe housing for agricultural and food processing employees is imperative to the health of these essential workers. The agribusiness-led lawsuit filed in federal court on Tuesday, Aug. 11th, absurdly alleging that the public health order is discriminatory and racist is meritless, dishonest and disturbing in its misuse of civil rights protections and false racial justice rhetoric.

Many of us can safely stay home during a global pandemic. Farm workers cannot. They face disproportionate risks of being infected with the novel coronavirus and have not enjoyed the protections other essential workers have received. Farm workers are essential. We need more protections for farm workers, not less. Safeguards like free testing and safe isolation housing are desperately needed to protect the health of agricultural communities.

Michigan took necessary action to address real racial disparities and promote farm worker health and safety. The Michigan Immigrant Rights Center, Farmworker Legal Services and the UFW Foundation and the United Farm Workers firmly support Michigan’s public health order and the state’s leadership in addressing the threat of COVID-19 in farm working communities and expose the lawsuit as a transparent and cynical ploy.