Politics & Government

Disgruntled guest workers return home from Sacramento

More than 30 guest farmworkers left for Mexico this past weekend, with some complaining that their Sacramento employer broke promises about work hours, wages and travel reimbursements.

The workers were part of a large group hired by Galt-based labor contractor Salvador Gonzalez as part of the federal H-2A guest worker program.

Gonzalez obtained permission earlier this year to sponsor, for six months, about 180 H-2A laborers he personally recruited in the state of Colima, Mexico.

California farm employers rarely use the H-2A program to import foreign workers to fill seasonal jobs they cannot find domestic workers to perform. The Bush administration, however, has been encouraging employers to sponsor H-2A foreign workers to replace tens of thousands of illegal immigrants in this state.

About a month and a half after the Colima workers arrived in mid-July, however, some of them filed a lawsuit alleging that Gonzalez had broken his contract offering wages of up to $100 a day, 40-hour work weeks and decent housing and low-cost nutritious meals.

"The way he (Gonzalez) talked to us about all the work we would have here is what convinced us to come here," said Daniel Becerra, 20, one of the workers who left over the weekend.

Becerra is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit alleging that Gonzalez provided decrepit housing, food consisting mostly of beans and far fewer work hours than promised.

Read the complete story at sacbee.com