Originally printed in . . .

Report Spotlights Farm Labor Contractors

This information has been adapted from an article prepared by Suzanne Clark, Public Information Representative, College of Natural Resources, University of California, Berkeley.

Knowledge about farm labor contractors in California has not kept pace with their growing significance to agricultural business, despite the attention that public agencies give them under a plethora of laws and regulations. While more than 1,000 FLCs are responsible for some 20 percent of all farm employment in the state, anecdotes about the misdeeds of some have been more plentiful than informed understanding of their wide ranging business practices in relation to customers, employees, and government agencies.

A new UC report to the Employment Development Department presents results of interviews with 180 labor contractors in the Fresno, Imperial, Monterey, San Joaquin-Stanislaus, and Ventura-Santa Barbara County areas during 1991. It addresses such questions as: Who becomes an FLC and why? How are their businesses organized? How and where do they market their services? How do they manage employees and deal with government regulation? What is their outlook on the farm labor market?

EDD's Labor Market Information Division contracted with the UC Agricultural Personnel Management Program to conduct this study, which also included complementary surveys of growers and workers. Survey interviewers were much more likely to reach "visible" FLCs, selected from government agency files, than unlisted operators. Although contractors who flaunt even the basic filing requirements were underrepresented, the report adds to evidence of a sector of FLCs trying to run their businesses effectively and fairly within the guidelines of public policy.

Study findings may be quickly brought into assessment of recent legislative initiatives and new regulatory proposals affecting labor contractors. Material in the report has already been considered by the U.S. Commission on Agricultural Workers and the state Farm Worker Services Coordinating Council. Among conclusions of the study are that:

Overall project leader and principal investigator of the study was APMP Director Howard Rosenberg. Project coordinator and field work supervisor was Suzanne Vaupel, Vaupel Associates, Sacramento. Other co-authors of the report were Jeffrey Perloff, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Berkeley; David Runsten and Don Villarejo, both of the California Institute for Rural Studies, Davis. Additional members of the study team were Christopher Edmonds, Vijaykumar Pradhan, Ana Garcia, Loretta Lynch, and Youssouf Camara.

The report is being published by EDD. Copies will be available through the LMID Special Projects Unit, phone 916/262-2123.


Back to: Contents | LMD Main Page | APMP Home