In terms of scale, global biotechnology corporation Monsanto is a titan of industry – so large and powerful that a couple of dissatisfied customers can’t really touch it. But in recent years Monsanto has been making a lot of enemies who are becoming increasingly empowered to fight back. From domestic small farm owners to foreign legal experts, stands are being taken against the company. Now a group of migrant workers from Texas have filed a lawsuit against Monsanto for unconscionable work conditions.
According to reports, the group of workers traveled from their home state of Texas to pursue work in Indiana corn fields, on the word of Monsanto liaison Hermilo Cantu, Jr. – Cantu reportedly told the workers that they would have free housing for themselves and their families, kitchen facilities, and a set wage, but they soon found this to be far from the case:
But the workers claim those promises went unfulfilled. They say the recruiter had told them they would earn a piece-rate wage of $80 per acre, but the actual pay turned out to be less than that and below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Although they did have free motel housing when they arrived, the workers claim they eventually ended up in a former nursing home having to pay $300 per month in rent.
$300 per month may sound like reasonable rent, but not for substandard conditions (some families claim they did not have enough beds) and not at wages well below the minimum. The kitchen facilities also allegedly turned out to be a bus retrofitted with refrigerators and stoves that was too small to accommodate all of the families. In addition, some of the workers reportedly suffered illness due to the intense pesticide situation on the farms.
While Cantu couldn’t be reached for comment, Monsanto has of course stressed that everything was on the up and up and that all of their business transactions were perfectly legal and totally legit:
Tom Helscher, a spokesman for Monsanto, told HuffPost that the company has not yet received the complaint but is aware of it. "Monsanto is committed to insuring that all seasonal laborers supporting our business receive the pay and benefits they are promised," Helscher wrote in an email, "and the pay and benefits provided exceed what is required by law."
On the up and up or not, we’re sure we’ll hear all about it once the court case gets underway. (Unless we don’t, in the event that the migrant workers settle confidentially with Monsanto like what happened with a similar lawsuit involving migrant workers from Arizona, which is an equally real possibility.)
[SOURCE: Huffington Post]