More scumbag wage thieves in agriculture

This time the scumbags are operating in one of the wealthiest suburbs of Sacramento, so of course they see no need to pay Bougie for his stoop labor:


If you are 14 years of age or older, you can apply for a volunteer position at the farm. We have many jobs available for those that would like to learn more about the basics of farming and farming operations. You could be picking strawberries at one time and caring for the chickens another. There are so many jobs to be done each and every day such that we can’t possibly list them here.

If you’re interested in volunteering, then download the attached Volunteer Application and Waiver document and send to us after completing and signing it. We will then speak with you about farming and if volunteering here would be mutually beneficial. We want our volunteers to learn far more than what we can possibly compensate them for.

For the love of God. We pay you in experiences, not wages. The owners could “possibly compensate them for” hours worked, like reputable businesspeople, but they’d rather not. So would every shithead, corporate or individual, that has ever been sued for wage theft. In this case, because farming is so fucking groovy and shit that its venerable practice would be corrupted by the specter of payroll income for those practicing it as grunt laborers.

Let’s have a brief cultural learning of Mexico for make benefit glorious nation of Bougiekistan: Gringo please. What the fuck, amigo? Who the fuck does free farm work for some bastard just in order to learn about farming? (Bougie-ass gringos, of course.) You’d learn about farming working for any farm on payroll, just like you’d learn about any job by holding it, but these groovy-ass back-to-the-land organic motherfuckers in the foothills don’t pay their field hands because working for them is an educational experience, and also because making payroll would be, like, kind of expensive.

Also expensive:

I understand that I am NOT an employee of El Dorado Hills Natural Farms or any of its owners, partners or managers. Accordingly, there is no Workers’ Compensation insurance coverage provided should I become injured or ill while working under this volunteer program. I agree to immediately report any injuries or illnesses I incur while participating under this volunteer program to management.

I agree to hold harmless SurThrive, LLC dba El Dorado Hills Natural Farms, its owners, partners, managers, employees and volunteers, as well as the real property’s owners, from and against any and all liability arising out of or in any way connected with my participation in the volunteer program.

Hear that? By refusing to pay its field hands, El Dorado Farms exempts itself from all liability for any injuries that they may sustain on the job and from its normal responsibility to maintain insurance against workplace injury claims. By depriving its volunteers of pay, it asserts its right to deprive them of insurance coverage against workplace injuries. A minor screwing-over of the help facilitates a potentially major screwing-over. Parents: you may waive your children into this program as early as the age of fourteen. And the help legally waives its own right to express backsass through the courts for personal injury, etc. God Bless America.

Is this shady arrangement legal just because the owners say so? Bitch please. A winery near Livermore was effectively forced into liquidation after being fined $115,000 by state regulators for doing basically the same thing and financially exposing one of its “volunteers” to major medical expenses following a workplace injury. If you want to see something disgusting, there’s a huge infestation of mini-Cliven Bundy don’t-tread-on-me Katie-bar-the-door-and-shoot-the-taxman rugged individualists in the comment thread below that Mercury News article. To judge from the syntax and argumentation, some of the infestation is probably made up of paid corporate trolls. Notice, too, that one of the winery’s owners defended his operation by saying that lots of other wineries do the same thing. Everybody’s doing it. It’s the same garbage argument made by big growers about their hiring of illegal immigrants and suborning of I9 document fraud. No one wants the goddamn government to infringe upon his right to freely violate the duly constituted labor laws of his own country. That would be tyranny, you see. We had the same fight over chattel slavery by racial attainder back in the day, since that, too, was the birthright of the Southern gentleman, except in that case the fight lasted for four years and killed 620,000. A troll fest under a local desk article at the Merc comes close enough to Marx’s standards for a farce, I assume.

El Dorado Hills Natural Farms doesn’t look morally or legally different from Westover Winery. I haven’t found anything indicating that it is structured as a nonprofit, but even if it is, the compensation of its principals may still expose it to liability as a de facto for-profit organization. EDH Farms actively solicits sponsorships from other local businesses, so a fair amount of its support comes from an in-house advertising business. This looks awfully for-profit at a glance. Many nonprofits are notorious for being structured to enrich their executives, sometimes to the point of outright fraud against donors. As a practical matter, American businesses may unilaterally waive regulations that they don’t like, but as a legal matter they may not. State and federal regulatory enforcement is uneven, effectively arbitrary, and worst, sometimes selective or retaliatory, but this doesn’t mean that the regulations are illegitimate or that they should not be enforced.

Quite a bit of the unevenness of enforcement is due to a lack of complainants. If the neighbors all turn a blind eye to the lawlessness because that’s “how things work around here” (a huge red flag, by the way), that’s just because lawlessness is as lawlessness does. It’s crowdsourced local tyranny. It doesn’t mean that the local tyrants won’t injure or just plain piss off someone who has the balls and the anger to call in overwhelming state or federal backup. It just means that they haven’t done so yet. When push comes to shove, no parallel shadow government by easily butthurt pissants in the local Chamber of Commerce will be able to fend the long arm of the law. That takes a Bundy-style insurrection, guns loaded and drawn. The censorious business community milquetoasts who do most of the complaining about government intervention in their lawlessness just don’t have that kind of fight in them. Katie ain’t got the bar to keep that door shut.

Nice organic farming and volunteer-fleecing operation you got up there off 50; shame if something happened to it involving state labor regulators. Shame if you sued someone for libeling it with accusations of moral turpitude and illegality and found the suit docketed in Sacramento County, where the accusations were published (Starbucks at Folsom and 65th; please to enjoy) and where the jury pool includes valley floor poors and state employees who don’t give a shit about the hypocrisies of local politics in El Dorado County.

The shame isn’t that I opened my big mouth, partner. Shame would look more like a SLAPP. It isn’t exactly the plaintiff’s friend in California, in case anyone was wondering.

Shame, again: more business owners should try feeling some.

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