Sign the letter today! Protect Michigan Farmworker Minimum Wage

Sign it here! Deadline May 15.NINO

The right to a minimum wage is one of the most basic and fundamental protections a worker can count on in the workplace. Agricultural workers are among the most vulnerable and often-exploited workers, doing one of the most dangerous, and essential jobs, in today’s economy. Michigan’s Wage and Hour laws are meant to offer stateside protection to workers where the federal government will not. Until very recently, this included agricultural workers on Michigan’s small farms. However, on December 19, 2017, then-Attorney General Bill Schuette changed that.

AG Opinion #7301, reinterprets a part of Michigan’s minimum wage laws (known as the Workforce Opportunity Wage Act (WOWA)) as excluding workers on Michigan’s small farms from minimum wage protections. In his opinion, the former Attorney General concluded, “This construction of subsection 10(1)(b) has the effect of leaving some employees without a right to a minimum hourly wage under the WOWA (or the FLSA).” The interpretation reversed a decade-long understanding, one confirmed by the legislative history surrounding the section’s passage, that this subsection offered minimum wage protection to all workers, including those on small farms.

While the former Attorney General did not change his position, there’s a new AG in charge. The Michigan Department of Civil Rights, at the direction of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, has asked Attorney General Dana Nessel to reconsider AG #7301.

UPDATE: Attorney General Dana Nessel has accepted this request and asks for public comments through mid-May as she prepares to make a decision. Support this request by signing your organization, your business, your church or faith community, or just yourself to this letter. The signature period closes on Wednesday, May 15.

Women of Color Convening Series: May 16, wsg Remi Harrington

WOC May 16 2019 Twitter Image“Building collective consciousness about what local foods can mean to us as a people”

 OKT and co-sponsor, Access of West Michigan, are excited to bring activist, farmer and educator, Remi Harrington, to Grand Rapids as part of OKT’s 2019 Women of Color Convening series. The FREE event takes place May 16  at Sherman Street Church, lower level, from 6 to 8 p.m. The event will kick-off with a food demo and sampling featuring bulk whole foods from OKT’s Collective Whole Foods Purchasing Group.

In Kalamazoo, Harrington grows food at her own urban community farm, “Tegan’s Hopeful Storybook Garden,” and empowers others to plant their own urban food gardens through her work as community farms coordinator for Kalamazoo Valley Community College Food Innovation Center. She has a vision for local urban farmers becoming a mainstay in Kalamazoo’s local food economy. At the convening, Harrington will lead the dialogue about “Building collective consciousness about what local foods can mean to us as a people.”

“If we can create a collective consciousness about what local foods can mean to us as a people … being really intentional about what we want to put in our bodies, biodynamic agriculture, eating seasonally and locally, that would create wellness, that would create health, that would create community, that would rebuild us as a people group,” stated Harrington in a December 2018 Second Wave Media feature. “That would bring peace and love and trust and that whole granola stuff. The case is good for business all around, not just for black folks, but for all of us.”

The work of Access of West Michigan’s Good Food Systems Initiative aims to address food access, health, and justice in our local food system. We believe that the values of a Good Food system create a thriving community for all. The collaborative solutions and programs that Access facilitates equip community partners, invest in our local food economy, grow health, and convene food and faith conversations.