More than 2,400 documented immigrants with H2A visas work in the sheep industry in the United States. H2A worker visas link sheepherders to their employers in a way that renders them completely vulnerable to their employers, due to obsolete labor regulations. The sheepherders are required to be on call 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, living in small campers without electricity, running water and bathroom, as seen below. They suffer extreme isolation and are often forbidden by their employers to have any visitors or even phone access. In some cases, the conditions could be considered human trafficking or modern day slavery. CMFN partners with other organizations to advocate for the rights of these workers and the need to greatly improve the laws regulating their working and living conditions.
In Colorado, various organizations work to promote the rights of these mainly South American workers. The campaign includes:
- Immediate assistance with clothing, food and medicine through a weekly visitation program.
- Legal assistance in cases of work abuse, wage theft and human trafficking.
- Communications and public education.
- Advocating for changes in federal and state legislation.
Read the latest information from the Hispanic Affairs Project of Western Colorado with real stories and statistics about the mistreatment of shepherds:
2013 Sheepherder Fact Sheet | HAP Newsletter July 2013
Listen to this NPR story to hear shepherds tell their stories of labor abuse and wage theft: June 2013 Interview with Herders and Ranchers
View more information in the slideshow below. This powerpoint and other resources shared on this page may be download and used to continue to raise awareness about the rights of sheepherders.
Visit the following sites to learn more and view campaign updates:
www.hapgj.org Hispanic Affairs Project – Western Colorado