VIDALIA, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – As Congress weighs in on the immigration bill and the guest worker program, farm workers from Vidalia are taking their concerns to federal court.
For nearly a decade, Sherry Tomason has worked the fields in her hometown, it's a job she enjoys but says the farm work is hard to come by because of Mexicans.
The former Stanley Farms employee, along with 20 other former and current workers, are suing the Vidalia onion producers claiming that farm "favored" immigrant workers. Tomason, the lead plaintiff, alleges that her wages were cut and she was paid less than minimum wage.
"The Mexicans could be pushed around more than the American workers could be," Tomason said, "they will continue to work when it's raining, lightening, whatever. Anybody doing the same job as the person beside them should be getting the same pay, that's just it."
The immigrants are hired through the Mexican guest worker program, which allows foreigners with an H2-A Visa to make minimum wage and be paid by how many pieces they pick. The suit claims the H2-A workers were paid more than $9 an hour, while the Americans made less than minimum wage.
The defendants' attorney J. Larry Stine says his client hires locally and is in accordance with the law. Stanley Farms denies these allegations.
41NBC will continue to have updates on this developing story and the immigration debate.