Farmworkers plant and harvest the food that feeds the United States, yet they face horrible working conditions and receive little legal protections. They do backbreaking work for long hours, and are exposed to extreme weather and harmful chemicals. But they lack basic labor protections such as minimum wage, overtime pay, and disability or health insurance. Employers often provide substandard and unsanitary housing, in addition to coercing and abusing their workers. Children as young as twelve often work in the fields. These conditions have prompted many people to liken farmwork to modern-day slavery.

Many American laws that ensure basic labor standards were originally passed in the 1930s, and exclude farmworkers and domestic laborers, which were jobs held by people of color. With the support of Senator Robert F. Kennedy, Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers Movement fought to improve conditions in the 1960s and extended the movement to undocumented immigrants, who comprise a large portion of the farmworker population. Undocumented workers are exploited to an even greater degree than citizens, and often do not speak out about abuses for fear of deportation.

Today, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights partners with the Coalition for Immokalee workers and the Rural Migrant Ministry to improve labor conditions for farmworkers here in the United States.

Regions Where We Address Farmworkers' Rights

  • Americas

    From continuing Robert Kennedy's efforts with American farmworkers to working to end violence against women in Latin America, our programs in the Americas seek to protect the vulnerable, end corruption, and ensure respect for the dignity of each person throughout the region.

Our Programs Addressing Farmworkers' Rights

  • Partners for Human Rights

    Our lawyers and experts join with our partners in the field to create real change, fulfilling Robert Kennedy’s pledge that those with the courage to enter moral conflict will find themselves with companions in every corner of the globe.

  • Speak Truth to Power

    A human rights education program that strives to create a global citizenry dedicated to the highest standards of justice and equality.

  • Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Young Leaders

    Robert Kennedy called young people “the world’s hope.” He believed in their energy, talent, and idealism—qualities that define the RFK Young Leaders, a group of innovative, influential, and philanthropic young adults dedicated to creating a more just and peaceful world.