Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Apr 28, 2020 / 15:47 pm
The bishops of the United States have called for increased protections and support for farm workers during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
An April 29 statement from the U.S. bishops' coference, co-signed by four bishops, advocated that employers of migrant and farm workers, as well as public health officials, acknowledge that “all workers need access to free testing and care related to the COVID-19 virus.”
The bishops called for renewed commitments from employers to ensure that housing and transportation provided for farm workers is safe and compliant with Centers for Disease Control guidelines, that information on health and hygiene practices is “easily accessible in multiple languages” and that workers be given any appropriate personal protective equipment.
The statement was signed by Archbishop Nelson Perez of Philadelphia, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Cultural Diversity; Bishop Joseph Tyson of Yakima, who leads the Subcommittee on Pastoral Care of Migrants, Refugees and Travelers (PCMRT); Bishop Oscar Cantu of San Jose, the PCMRT’s episcopal liaison for migrant farmworker ministry; and Bishop Mario Dorsonville, an auxiliary bishop of Washington and leader of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration.
The statement also noted the need for emergency plans, establishing protocols for when a worker is diagnosed with COVID-10.
“To defeat the virus, no one must be left out,” said the bishops. “The COVID-19 virus teaches us we are one human family, says the Holy Father. ‘We can only get out of this situation together, as a whole humanity.’”
The bishops said it was essential to “honor the dignity of farmworkers and make sure that they are paid a livable wage as well as be eligible for other benefits to help protect their health and the health and safety of their families at this time.”
Bishop Tyson told CNA on Tuesday that the safety of migrant workers is especially important in his own diocese, where much of the population and economy is connected to the agricultural industry.