An eight-month U.S. Department of Labor investigation has found that the farm owned by State Senator Brent Jackson, the powerful co-chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee and a member of Donald Trump’s agricultural advisory committee, broke federal minimum wage standards and was ordered to pay more than $2,000 in backpay to twenty-one workers. The farm has paid that total in full.
After an investigation that ran from January to August 2015, Jackson Farming Company “was found in violation of recordkeeping, disclosure, and wage statement provisions, as well as violations resulting from failure to pay the minimum prevailing wage under the H-2A regulations,” a representative from the Department of Labor’s Office of Public Affairs told INDY Week. “Twenty-one workers found $2,180 in back wages. All back wages have been paid. Subject employer promised full, future compliance.”
Jackson, whose farm has a history of safety and wage violations which we reported on in June, is currently facing a lawsuit from seven former H-2A workers at his farm who allege wage violations and retaliation from the farm for filing the lawsuit.
Jackson’s Senate office declined to comment because “it wasn’t a legislative matter.” A call to the farm went unanswered.
“We know there’s been ongoing violations at that farm, particularly since he got out from under the union agreement,” Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) vice president Justin Flores told the INDY. “We’re hoping that more workers like his decide to come together and request better working conditions and keep growers in compliance with the law through collective bargaining.”
Jackson, a Sampson County Republican who was elected in 2010 and serves as the vice-chair of the Agricultural, Environmental, and Natural Resources committee in addition to his duties as co-chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, is running unopposed for re-election this year.
The INDY has submitted a FOIA request for the full findings of the investigation, and will report on this story as more information comes in.