The Sheepherder Project
The Sheepherder Project is a collaboration between Grand Valley Peace and Justice, Hispanic Affairs Project and Colorado Legal Services with three components:
- Provide humanitarian interaction for the sheepherders, informing them of their rights and providing them with some basic items: phone cards for calling home, basic medical and hygiene requirements and through clothing drives, additional winter clothing.
- Through speaking engagements and media productions, inform the general public about the conditions under which sheepherders work
- Though lobbying, make public officials aware of need for changes in the current laws which would improve the working conditions of the workers.
Through the efforts of outreach volunteers, immigrant rights organizers and pro-bono lawyers, inroads are being made into a subject that until recently was little known outside the immediate area surrounding sheep ranches.
In 2010, Colorado Legal Services published their report “Overworked and Underpaid” which is based on interviews with more than 200 sheepherders in Colorado. The report paints a dark picture of the exploitation of non-immigrant workers in the livestock industry in our state. All the more shameful because many of the abuses being committed are overseen by the Department of Labor and USCIS known as the H2 A programs for foreign range workers.
Click HERE to review the report mentioned above.
If you would like to help move this issue forward, you can contribute to GVPJ( Sheepherder Project on Subject line of your check) or you can purchase the Fair Trade Plus coffee from GVPJ’s website “Just Coffee” where proceeds go towards funding the outreach work with sheepherders and lobbying efforts with U.S. and Colorado state representatives.