HASTINGS, Fla. -- A settlement has been reached in the case of a potato grower charged with labor trafficking.
Bulls-Hit Ranch and Farm and labor contractor Ronald Uzzle faced a complaint of hiring homeless, drug-addicted men from the streets of Jacksonville to work the fields. The complaint, filed by Farmworker Justice and Florida Legal Services, accused the companies of taking advantage of the drug habits of their workers.
"Abusive treatment of workers is far too common in modern agriculture," said Weeun Wang, the director of litigation for Farmworkers Justice. The men and women working to put food on our tables deserve better."
Thomas R. Lee, the owner of the farm, agreed to a settlement which entitles the workers to back-pay for their time at Bulls-Hit Ranch. Lee must also change a number of employment practices, including paying employees directly instead of through a contractor.
Bulls-Hit Ranch and Farm faced a lawsuit in 2004 for similar abuses, including preying on vulnerable homeless workers, feeding their drug addictions, and driving them into debt.