Despite the essential role workers play in supplying the nation with food, food system workers have historically experienced high rates of poverty, poor working conditions, and discrimination. Farmworkers, in particular, are excluded from many worker protection laws and often face resource barriers linked to immigration status, language differences, and geographic isolation. Workers in the meat and poultry industries also face wearying and dangerous working conditions that threaten their health and safety, a problem that gained increased public scrutiny as the COVID-19 pandemic swept through these facilities. Food service workers, too, work in an industry plagued by discrimination, harassment, and low wages, exacerbated by the sub-minimum wage laws for tipped workers that persist at the federal level and in many states. The Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC) works to advance the rights, well-being, and empowerment of workers across the food system.
FLPC partners with advocacy organizations to provide legal research and policy guidance to support their short- and long-term policy objectives. Partners have included Farmworker Justice and Restaurant Opportunities Center United/One Fair Wage. FLPC also follows policy developments related to workers, generally, and food system workers, specifically, in order to better incorporate a workers-justice lens across its projects and programs.