Maybe you’ve heard on the news about illegal grows in Southern Oregon or read about Oregon House Bill 4074’s passing in the New Year. Despite where the information comes from, it seems like everyone is talking about a specific form of human trafficking that is effecting our industry: labor trafficking.
Labor trafficking includes situations where men, women, and even children are forced to work because of debt, immigration status, threats and violence. Keeping victims isolated — physically or emotionally — is a key method of control in most labor trafficking situations. But that does not mean you never cross paths with someone who is experiencing trafficking. Agriculture was the only industry in 2020 where labor trafficking cases grew. As workers in this industry, we may occasionally cross paths with workers that are not there because of their own will and it is our responsibility to report the employers while still protecting the worker.
Someone may be experiencing labor trafficking or exploitation if they:
- Feel pressured by their employer to stay in a job or situation they want to leave
- Owe money to an employer or recruiter or are not being paid what they were promised or are owed
- Do not have control of their passport or other identity documents
- Are living and working in isolated conditions, largely cut off from interaction with others or support systems
- Appear to be monitored by another person when talking or interacting with others
- Are being threatened by their boss with deportation or other harm
- Are working in dangerous conditions without proper safety gear, training, adequate breaks, or other protections
- Are living in dangerous, overcrowded, or inhumane conditions provided by an employer
What to do if someone you know is experiencing labor trafficking or exploitation:
- Explain first and foremost that you are concerned about the individual’s well-being. Many survivors of labor trafficking endure psychological effects of torture and helplessness including shame and humiliation, shock, denial and disbelief, disorientation and confusion, and anxiety disorders including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), phobias, panic attacks, and depression. Ensuring that you are there to support them before sharing any personal information can increase trust.
2. If you believe that someone is in immediate danger, call 911 otherwise, tip the National Human Trafficking Hotline Phone: 1-888-373-7888 | Text: 233-733
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or File a report at: https://humantraffickinghotline.org/report-trafficking
3. Oregon workers will take the extra step to notify the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission (OLCC)