"Slavery in the Home and out in the Fields" RH Reality Check

By Ivy Suriyopas

The 250-year legacy of slavery continues to permeate throughout contemporary United States. However, these days, the images we see are likely to be those of immigrants from the global South. Instead of state-sanctioned ownership and exploitation of workers inside the home or out in the fields, today’s federal government and most state regimes have largely failed to prevent the abuses and mistreatment of household employees and agricultural laborers.

Often described as “modern-day slavery,” human trafficking and exploitation are pervasive in domestic worker and farm worker industries. Trafficking in these industries is highly documented. According to a survey of domestic workers, the majority of live-in domestic workers work close to 60 hours per week, and almost 40 percent of domestic workers were not paid for their work or not paid on time. Meanwhile, almost 80 percent of farm workers are underpaid, and more than half of farm contractors violate the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, according to the National Employment Law Project.

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