Published: April 9, 2019

Migrant Seasonal Farm Worker (MSFW) Representatives joined together in March for a statewide meeting that had been years in the making. MSFW reps work for the Employment Department as Business Employment Specialists and are currently pushing for a 10 percent pay differential during this year’s contract negotiations. Working in WorkSource offices throughout the state, Business Employment Specialists wear a number of hats, providing a variety of services to help the unemployed or underemployed, including everything from helping to secure unemployment insurance to employment and recruitment placement.

In the more populous areas of our state, specifically along the I-5 corridor, Business Employment Specialists are often coordinating and communicating with a variety of localized resources and agencies. But in our more rural areas, the MSFW Reps have seen changes that have made them take on duties well beyond what would be considered a reasonable scope of work for a Business Employment Specialist, including duties requiring additional certification, such OSHA housing inspections for the federal government’s H2A program for seasonal or temporary migrant agricultural workers.

Additionally, MSFWs have rural agricultural assignments where they are required to make unannounced field inspections often putting them in danger by exposing them to herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers, and biological contaminants that other Business Employment Specialists never need to experience. In the past few years, these additional duties without support or guidance has led to both recruitment and retention issues, which is why MSFW reps statewide are joining together to unite for a better Oregon.