AFOP Honors Congressional Champions

Daniel SheehanAt its Thursday, February 14 congressional reception, AFOP presented its President’s Award to United States Representatives John Tierney of Massachusetts and Rubén Hinojosa of Texas for their continuing commitment to ensure farmworkers and their families have a shot at achieving the American Dream.  Proven leaders in Congress, both congressmen ardently support the Workforce Investment Act’s National Farmworker Jobs Program, which helps migrant and seasonal farmworkers obtain the skills they need to earn self- and family-sustaining wages. Congressmen Hinojosa has also been a strong voice in the fight to ensure equal protections for farmworker children under the law through his support of the Children’s Act for Responsible Employment (CARE) Act.  House Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn of South Carolina and House Homeland Security Committee Ranking Democrat Bennie Thompson of Mississippi were also honored guests in attendance.

Upon receiving his award, Congressman Tierney told the audience of about 150 farmworker advocates and workforce development professionals that it was appropriate the reception was on Valentine’s Day, noting that supporting meaningful programs like the NFJP “really is a labor of love.”Congressmen Clyburn and Thompson also addressed the crowd and repeated their commitment to migrant and seasonal farmworkers, offering their thanks to NFJP providers who ensure those harvesting the country’s food have the ability to get the skills they need, find housing, access educational opportunities, and feed their families. Congressman Hinojosa, while not able to attend the event and accept the award personally, sent words of inspiration in a prepared speech, noting the importance of job training opportunities and child labor protections for the nation’s farmworkers.

Photo by Ayrianne Parks, AFOPAFOP president Jesús Gamboa and Massachusetts board member Leida Cartegena present the award to Congressman John Tierney.

Photo by Ayrianne Parks, AFOP
AFOP president Jesús Gamboa and Massachusetts board member Leida Cartegena present the award to Congressman John Tierney.

As if to highlight their continuing commitment to America’s migrant and seasonal farmworkers and their families, Congressmen Hinojosa and Tierney joined with House Education and the Workforce Ranking Democratic Member George Miller of California in introducing the Workforce Investment Act of 2013 the very next day. The bill, H.R. 798, continues to invest in the NFJP, a proven-effective, national program that tailors training to effectively meet the needs of farmworkers and ensure they have the skills to succeed in today’s tough job market. House Republicans are expected to introduce their own Workforce Investment Act reauthorization bill in the coming days.

Given the importance of WIA programs to AFOP’s members, the Association will be watching developments in this regard closely as Congress moves forward with its work in the days and weeks ahead.

To see more photos from the reception, please visit the AFOP National Facebook page.

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