June 19th marks the day in 1865 that Major General Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas with the news that enslaved people in the U.S. were freed, two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln had issued his Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. Juneteenth has since become a popular annual day of reflection and a celebration of freedom and resilience within the African American community, particularly across the South.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, a time to spread awareness and take action against the widespread sexual harassment and violence in our communities. This month, we are partnering with the Bandana Project to lift up and support migrant farmworkers in their fight against rampant sexual violence on the job.
When interviewed, a shocking 80% of farmworker women in California reported experiencing some form of sexual harassment at work. Many of these women have resorted to using layers of clothing, including bandanas, to protect themselves against sexual assault and violence on the job. Thus, the white bandana serves as a symbol of solidarity with farmworkers.
Founded in 2007 as a project of Esperanza: The Immigrant Women’s Legal Initiative of the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Bandana Project has grown into a major national campaign led by Justice for Migrant Women. A Better Balance is proud to be a partner in this important initiative to support and empower farmworkers impacted by sexual violence.
The bravery and leadership of farmworkers has inspired efforts across the country to end the epidemic of sexual violence. Here are just three key initiatives:
- The BE HEARD in the Workplace Act was recently introduced in Congress. This comprehensive legislation would expand workplace harassment protections to all workers and provide better tools to ensure that survivors have a fair chance in court. Justice for Migrant Women has been a leading voice in support of this measure. The group’s founder and president Mónica Ramírez called the bill a “critical step toward addressing some of the huge injustices that exist in our federal employment and civil rights law.” A Better Balance is proud to support this important legislation.
- In New York, as in other states, farmworkers have historically been excluded from the state’s labor laws. The Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act, introduced in the New York state legislature earlier this year, extends labor protections to farmworkers, including workplace safety protections and the right to organize and bargain collectively.
- The Coalition of Immokalee Workers is a worker-led organization based in the South that oversees the Fair Food Program, an innovative campaign that enforces a human rights-based code of conduct for employers that includes zero tolerance for sexual harassment.
There are many strategies in the fight to combat workplace sexual harassment, and each is critical to the success of the overall movement. We are in solidarity with migrant farmworkers leading the fight to end sexual violence and to promote dignity and respect for all.
For workers who have questions about their workplace rights, A Better Balance hosts a free and confidential legal helpline that can be reached at 833-633-3222 (1-833-NEED-ABB).