ARAIZA-CALZADA et al v. WEBB'S SEAFOOD INC
ORDER denying 118 Motion for Summary Judgment; granting the relief requested in 121 Motion for Summary Judgment. Plaintiff's remaining claims are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. The Clerk is directed to close the case.Signed by JUDGE RICHARD SMOAK on 9/10/2014. (jem)
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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
PANAMA CITY DIVISION
JOSE ARAIZA-CALZADA et al.,
CASE NO. 5:13-cv-15-RS-CJK
WEBB’S SEAFOOD, INC.,
Before me are Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 118) and
Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 121).
The issue before me is a matter of first impression. I must decide whether
oyster shuckers fall under the definition of “agricultural employment” under the
Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, 29 U.S.C. § 1801 et
Defendant Webb’s Seafood (“Webb’s”) operates an oyster packing and
processing facility in Youngstown, Florida. Plaintiffs (“Plaintiffs”) are Mexican
guestworkers who came to work for Webb’s as oyster shuckers under the H-2B
Visa program. The Plaintiffs brought suit against Webb alleging violations of the
Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the Florida Constitution, the AWPA, as well as
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breach of contract. All of the monetary claims have settled, and the only claim
remaining is a request for declaratory judgment that oyster shuckers are entitled to
The facts are undisputed. The parties, in a 32-page Stipulated Joint
Statement of Facts (Doc. 112) and a 27 page Expert Report (Doc. 115), have
thoroughly described the operations of Webb’s Seafood and the oyster shucking
process. I summarize the pertinent facts below.
a. Webb’s Seafood
Webb’s Seafood is a small business in Youngstown, Florida, that processes
oysters purchased from other sources. It resells processed oysters to customers
such as restaurants, grocery stores, and wholesalers. The oysters come from the
Gulf of Mexico in Florida, Louisiana, and Texas. Webb’s purchases Florida
oysters direct from harvesters and purchases the Texas and Louisiana oysters from
wholesale seafood companies. All oysters that Webb’s processes are naturally bred
and wild caught and are not considered aquaculture products.
After experiencing a labor shortage, Webb’s explored the possibility of
hiring guest workers through the federal H2-B program. The Department of Labor
approved Webb’s application for the program and approved Webb’s plan to hire 28
workers at $9.20 per hour as oyster shuckers. Webb’s recruited the ten Plaintiff-
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employees directly through a longtime employee, Juan Calzada. The Plaintiffs
were approved for non-agricultural work visas and came to the United States from
Mexico. They worked for several months in the spring and summer of 2011. After
returning to Mexico, they all reapplied for a second certification period and
returned to Webb’s in fall 2011.
In the fall of 2011, red tide dramatically reduced the supply of oysters in
Texas. Webb’s was unable to provide full time hours to its shuckers, and
terminated some of its H2-B workers, who were at-will employees. Eight of the ten
original plaintiffs were among those terminated.
The eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica, occurs naturally and is found in
coastal estuaries through the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. Oysters naturally colonize,
grow, and form substantial topographical features called reefs. Reefs can sustain
biodiverse ecosystems, which in turn lead to increased oyster production, which in
turn supports an active oyster fishery.
Oysters grow on these reefs where there are proper climate and water
conditions and available nutrition. Young oysters—spat—need to set on substrate,
which includes sediment, hard bottom, structures underlying the waters, and
associated biological communities. Once oysters have set, they can grow to 1 inch
within as little as six weeks and generally reach harvest size (3 inches) in about 18-
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24 months. Oysters between 1-3 inches are known as “seed” oysters. Harvest size
oysters are known as “sack” oysters. Oyster reefs include spat, seed, and sack
oysters, as well as “culch”—hard material such as shells or rocks placed on the
water bottom to create or enhance a hard surface.
When harvesting, harvesters keep only the sack oysters and return the
remaining spat, seed, and cultch to the reef. Because harvesting can damage
substrate, periodic and managed “clutching” is required to support sustainable
reefs. Cultching involves actively adding cultch to existing oyster reefs. The extent
to which maintenance and clutching is required varies by region and state.
Oysters in Florida are harvested through hand-tonging, by which fishermen
use tongs to harvest oysters from reefs and then separate out sack oysters on board.
Mechanical dredging is more commonly used to harvest oysters in Louisiana and
Texas; oysters are likewise brought on board and separated after being dredged.
Oyster harvesting and production are regulated at the state level, but must
comply with guidelines published by the Food and Drug Administration’s National
Shellfish Sanitation Program. Oyster temperature conditions are closely monitored
throughout the process in order to reduce the risk of disease. Shortly after
harvesting, oysters must be refrigerated.
When Webb’s purchases Texas and Louisiana oysters, they arrive
refrigerated. When it purchases Florida oysters, the oysters have already been
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culled, washed, graded, bagged, and tagged. Webb’s maintains a separate facility
in Eastpoint, Florida to receive oysters, refrigerate them, and transport them to its
Youngstown facility for processing.
c. Processing and Shucking
Oysters are refrigerated at Webb’s until they are ready to processed,
although sometimes the processing happens immediately. Oysters are either
processed as fully shucked oysters (essentially lumps of oyster meat) or as frozen
half shell oysters (oysters with their top shell removed).
First, oysters are moved on conveyer belt and sprayed with water and sent in
a single layer to a hot water tank.
Second, the oysters go through a “heat-shock” process. Heat shocking is a
process in which oysters are subject to controlled, temporary exposure to hot water
in order to weaken their muscles and make them easier for shuckers to open. The
process must be highly controlled in order to avoid cooking or killing the oysters.
The process is designed not to alter any physical or organoleptic characteristics of
During the heat-shock process, oysters are placed in hot water (around 145152 degrees Fahrenheit) for short periods (less than 5 minutes). The exact times
and temperatures vary according to oyster size and grade.
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Third, after some time, the oysters pass in a single layer on another conveyor
belt where they begin cooling and are delivered to the shucking table.
Fourth, in the Shucking Room, oyster shuckers (such as the Plaintiffs)
manually open the oyster shells using a knife, extract the meat from the oyster, and
place the meat into buckets full of ice slush. For frozen half-shell oysters, the
shuckers remove only the tops hell and place the half-shell on a different conveyor
Fifth, the oysters are weighed, inspected, and packed into cold storage.
Sixth, the finished product is distributed in refrigerated trucks.
This case was originally filed in January 2013 by seven former Webb’s
employees who had entered the United States from Mexico as part of the H2-B
program. Three additional workers later joined as plaintiffs. The Plaintiffs alleged
in their Amended Complaint that Webb’s had committed violations of the Fair
Labor Standards Act, the minimum wage provisions of the Florida Constitution,
the AWPA, as well as a common law contract violation. Three of the plaintiffs
have settled all of their claims entirely, and the remaining seven plaintiffs have
settled their claims, but their settlement agreement is contingent in part upon a
declaration that they are entitled to the protections of the AWPA. This case is
procedurally similar to Morante-Navarro v. T&Y Pine Straw, Inc., 350 F.3d 1163,
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1166 (11th Cir. 2003), where “[a]s a condition of the settlement agreement. . . the
district court retained jurisdiction to resolve the remaining issue of whether the
In other words, the only issue before me is whether the AWPA applies to
a. Standard of Review
The basic issue before the court on a motion for summary judgment is
“whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a
jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law.”
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251, 106 S. Ct. 2505, 2512 (1986).
The moving party has the burden of showing the absence of a genuine issue as to
any material fact, and in deciding whether the movant has met this burden, the
court must view the movant’s evidence and all factual inferences arising from it in
the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398
U.S. 144 (1970); Fitzpatrick v. City of Atlanta, 2 F.3d 1112, 1115 (11th Cir. 1993).
The facts of this case are not disputed. Rather, I am asked to apply the
undisputed facts to determine, as a matter of law, whether the Plaintiff oyster
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shuckers are “agricultural workers” under the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural
Worker Protection Act.
b. The Parties’ Contentions
Plaintiffs contend that they are entitled to the protections of the AWPA.
They argue that they fall under the Act’s definition of agricultural employment, 29
U.S.C. § 1802(3):
The term “agricultural employment” means employment in any service or
activity included within the provisions of section 3(f) of the Fair Labor
Standards Act of 1938 (29 U.S.C. 203(f)), or section 3121(g) of Title 26 and
the handling, planting, drying, packing, packaging, processing, freezing, or
grading prior to delivery for storage of any agricultural or horticultural
commodity in its unmanufactured state.
Plaintiffs have the burden of establishing that they are covered by the Act.
See, e.g, Josendis v. Wall to Wall Residence Repairs, Inc., 662 F.3d 1292, 1298
(11th Cir. 2011) (finding that in order to be eligible for an analogous FLSA claim,
“an employee must first demonstrate that he is ‘covered’ by the FLSA.”).
Webb’s contends that Plaintiffs are not entitled to AWPA protections. It
makes five arguments that they are not. The first three are arguments that oyster
shucking does not fall under the definition of “agricultural employment” in 29
U.S.C. § 1802(3). First, it argues that Congress did not intend oyster shucking to be
included in the definition of “agricultural employment” and did not intend for
oysters to be considered “agricultural or horticultural commodities.” Second, it
argues that the oysters have already been “deliver[ed] for storage” by the time they
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are shucked. Third, it argues that the oysters are not in an “unmanufactured state”
at the time they are shucked.
Fourth, Webb’s argues that each Plaintiff does not qualify as a “migrant
agricultural worker,” defined as “an individual who is employed in agricultural
employment of a seasonal or other temporary nature, and who is required to be
absent overnight from his permanent place of residence,” 29 U.S.C. 1802(8)(A),
because the employment was not of a “seasonal or other temporary nature.”
Fifth, Webb’s argues that the AWPA would be unconstitutionally vague if
applied to oyster shuckers.
c. Whether Oysters are “Agricultural or Horticultural Commodities”
The AWPA contains three definitions of “agricultural employment”—the
definition provided in FLSA, the definition provided in the Internal Revenue Code,
and the broader definition included in the text of 29 U.S.C. 1802(3). Plaintiffs
concede that the first two definitions have been construed to mean traditional
agricultural work performed “on a farm.” See Morante-Navarro v. T&Y Pine
Straw, Inc., 350 F.3d 1163, 1167 (11th Cir. 2003). However, they argue that
oysters are an “agricultural commodity” and therefore fall under the broader
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It is ambiguous whether oysters should be considered an “agricultural or
horticultural commodity.” The term is not defined, and there appears to be little onpoint regulatory guidance or judicial interpretation.
Upon thorough consideration of the text, the history of the AWPA, and
available guidance, I find that Congress did not intend for oyster workers and other
seafood workers to fall under the AWPA, and that oysters are not “agricultural or
horticultural commodities” under the Act.
Congress passed the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection
Act in 1983 to replace the Farm Labor Contractor Registration Act of 1963, 7
U.S.C. § 2041 et seq. (“FLCRA”) (repealed 1983), which was ineffective at
accomplishing its purposes. See Monte-Navarro, 350 F.3d at 1169. In passing the
AWPA, Congress intended to expand the definition of “agricultural employment”
to include activities not previously covered by the FLCRA. Id.
Congress undoubtedly intended the AWPA to extend migrant worker
protections beyond what was included in any previous definitions of agriculture.
However, it did not intend to extend the law to every worker under the sun. This
case is unique in AWPA jurisprudence because no court appears to have
considered whether the AWPA extends beyond the land itself to the sea. It seems,
without explicit guidance to the contrary, that Congress did not intend the Act to
extend so far.
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1. The legislative history of the AWPA shows that Congress did not intend
seafood to be included in “agriculture.”
The FLCRA, the AWPA’s predecessor, had its roots in the 1938 Fair Labor
Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq. The FLSA’s definition of agriculture, which
is basically unchanged from 1938, includes
“farming in all its branches and among other things includes the cultivation
and tillage of the soil, dairying, the production, cultivation, growing, and
harvesting of any agricultural or horticultural commodities (including
commodities defined as agricultural commodities in section 1141j(g) of Title
12), the raising of livestock, bees, fur-bearing animals, or poultry, and any
practices (including any forestry or lumbering operations) performed by a
farmer or on a farm as an incident to or in conjunction with such farming
operations, including preparation for market, delivery to storage or to market
or to carriers for transportation to market.”
29 U.S.C. § 203(f). This definition, as Plaintiffs concede, does not include
seafood because its provisions appear to apply to land-based agriculture.
The other definition of agriculture which the FLCRA adopted was the
Internal Revenue Code definition, which is even less ambiguous in its exclusion of
seafood. That definition ties “agriculture” to work that occurs on a “farm,” which
includes “stock, dairy, poultry, fruit, fur-bearing animal, and truck farms,
plantations, ranches, nurseries, ranges, greenhouses or other similar structures used
primarily for the raising of agricultural or horticultural commodities, and
orchards.” 26 U.S.C. § 3121(g).
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Congress treated seafood separately from agriculture in a number of
respects. In carving out wage and hour exemptions to the FLSA, Congress carved
out separate exemptions for those “employed in agriculture”, 29 U.S.C. §
213(a)(6), with those “employed in the catching, taking, propagating, harvesting,
cultivating, or farming of any kind of fish, shellfish, crustacea, sponges, seaweeds,
or other aquatic forms of animal and vegetable life,” 29 U.S.C. § 213(a)(5). The
juxtaposition of those “employed in agriculture” with those “employed in the
catching . . . of fish” shows that Congress thought that “agriculture” did not include
seafood. Otherwise, there would be no reason for the separate provision.
Likewise, the revenue code maintains separate distinctions for seafood. 26
U.S.C. 3121(b)(20) exempts service performed by “an individual on a boat
engaged in catching fish or other forms of aquatic animal life,” without referencing
the definition of “agricultural labor” in 26 U.S.C. 3121(g). Furthermore, compare
26 U.S.C. § 3306(c)(17) (exempting “farming of any kind of fish [or] shellfish”)
with 26 U.S.C.3306(k) (adopting “agricultural labor” definition from 3121(g)).
It therefore seems clear that in 1938, Congress intended “agriculture” to be
limited to the land. What is fatal to Plaintiffs’ contention is there appears to be no
evidence that Congress has changed its mind.
When Congress passed the FLCRA of 1963, it included by incorporation
these definitions of agriculture. See Pub. L. 88-582, 78 Stat. 920 (Sept. 7, 1964).
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Congress had previously operated under the assumption that “agriculture” did not
mean seafood, and there is no indication that the FLCRA intended to change that.
Likewise, when Congress amended the FLCRA in 1974 to broaden the scope of
coverage and added the third definition that makes up the modern AWPA, see Pub.
L. 93-518, 88 Stat 1652 (Dec. 7, 1974), it gave no indication whatsoever that it
intended to expand the definition of agriculture so far as to include seafood.
Instead, evidence at the time suggests that Congress still believed agriculture
and seafood work to be distinctly different activities. The Summary of the Fair
Labor Standards Amendments of 1974, put out by the Committee on Education
and Labor on April 2, 1974, just a few months before the Amendments to the
FLCRA, indicates that “Agricultural Employees,” which were described in Section
4 of the report, were treated differently than “Seafood Canning and Processing”
employees in Section 11. (See Doc. 123-5). When Congress amended the FLCRA
just a few months later, it added a definition to include the “processing . . . of any
agricultural or horticultural commodity.” 7 U.S.C. § 2043(d), v1 Titles 1-7 at 1409
(1976). It would be difficult to believe that Congress intended seafood to be treated
as an “agricultural commodity” in the context of FLCRA when it very recently had
put out separate provisions to apply to seafood processors.
Likewise, the legislative record surrounding the 1974 amendments does not
appear to contain any indication that Congress intended to expand “agriculture” to
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include seafood. See, e.g., Joint Conf. Rep. 93-953, reprinted in 1974 USCCAN
2862; S. Conf. Rep., Fair Labor Standards Amendments of 1974, S. Rep. No. 93760 (March 28, 1974) (no mention of seafood employees); H. Rep. No. 93-913,
reprinted in 1974 USCCAN 2811, Fair Labor Standards Amendments of 1974
(March 15, 1974); (“Overtime coverage is extended to seasonal industry and
agricultural processing employees . . . [and] seafood canning and processing
employees . . .”); S. Rep. No. 93-1295, H. Rep. No. 93-1493, reprinted in 1974
USCCAN 6441, Farm Labor Contractor Registration Act Amendments of 1974
(Nov. 21, 1974) (no mention of seafood employees). Nor does there appear to be
any indication that Congress intended the 1983 AWPA to expand coverage to
seafood workers. See, e.g., H. Rep. No. 97-885, reprinted in 1982 USCCAN 4547,
Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (Sept. 28, 1982) (no
mention of seafood employees).
Plaintiffs’ argument that the FLSA and revenue code definitions should be
narrowly construed as exemptions rather than grants of coverage misses the mark.
The definitions provided in the exemptions, rather, are useful in understanding, in
the absence of any direct evidence, whether Congress intended “agriculture” to
encompass seafood and other fruits of the ocean. The conscious decision to
separately define seafood from “agriculture” even when it had ample opportunity
to include it within varyingly broad definitions of agriculture is powerful evidence
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that Congress did not consider seafood to be a part of what it considered
“agriculture,” but rather that seafood was something entirely different.
Furthermore, the plain language of the AWPA shows connection between
the FLSA and IRS exemption definitions and the third AWPA definition. 29 U.S.C
1802(3) provides coverage to anyone who falls under the FLSA definition, or
under the IRS definition, and under the third definition. The deliberate choice to
connect the third definition with the conjunctive “and” rather than the disjunctive
“or” demonstrates some connection between the third definition, including its
reference “agricultural and horticultural products,” and the definitions in the
exemptions of the FLSA and revenue code. Otherwise, “or” would have been a
more appropriate word choice. See Reiter v. Sonotone Corp., 442 U.S. 330, 339, 99
S. Ct. 2326, 2331, 60 L. Ed. 2d 931 (1979) (“Canons of construction ordinarily
suggest that terms connected by a disjunctive be given separate meanings.”).
The 1974 Amendments to the FLCRA and the AWPA admittedly purported
to extend the reach of the original FLCRA. This was apparent from Congress’s
choice to add an additional definition of “agricultural employees.” Indeed,
“Congress intended to expand the definition of ‘agriculture’ and ‘agricultural
employment’ to include activities, regardless of their location, not previously
covered by the FLCRA.” Morante-Navarro, 350 F.3d at 1169. However, there is
no indication that Congress intended to expand the definition of agriculture to
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reach to the sea. Congress had considered seafood to be a separately regulated
category of workers since it first began regulating labor, and it gave no indication
whatsoever that it intended to expand “agriculture” so far as to include workers
that never before been considered even within the realm of plausible “agricultural”
In sum, a thorough review of the history of AWPA indicates that Congress
did not intend for the term “agricultural” to apply to seafood.
2. Regulators have historically interpreted “agriculture” not to include
Where a statute is ambiguous, courts should afford great deference to
executive agency interpretations. Chevron, U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Res. Def.
Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837, 844, 104 S. Ct. 2778, 2782, 81 L. Ed. 2d 694 (1984).
The relevant agency, the Department of Labor, does not appear to have defined or
interpreted “agriculture” as used in the AWPA to specifically exclude or include
seafood. However, its historically disparate treatment of seafood and agriculture
provide additional support for my conclusion that “agricultural or horticultural
products” do not include seafood.
In interpreting the definition of agriculture in the original FLSA, the
predecessor of the definition of agriculture in the modern AWPA, the Department
of Labor noted that “the exemption provided by Section 13(a)(5) was intended to
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do for the seafood and fishery industry that which was done in other sections of the
Act for agriculture.” Administrator’s opinion, Interpretive Bulletin No. 12 (Dec. 7,
1938), reprinted in 1944-1945 Wage and Hour Manual, pp. 500-501 (BNA 1945)
(Doc. 123-1). The agency clearly thought that “agriculture” was distinct from the
“seafood and fishery industry,” as was Congress’s intention when it applied certain
provisions of the Act to “agriculture.”
Indeed, to this day, the DOL continues to interpret “agriculture” as used in
the FLSA differently from “seafood.” Compare 29 C.F.R. § 780 et seq. with 29
C.F.R. § 784 et seq. The DOL has recently been emphatic about this distinction.
See, e.g., FLSA2004-1, Wage and Hour Division, 2004 WL 769500 (Feb. 5, 2004)
(“The activities engaged in by crabmeat pickers and packers do not constitute
‘farming,’ nor is the work in a seafood processing plant performed ‘by a farmer or
on a farm.’ Therefore, the work of crabmeat pickers and packers does not
constitute ‘agriculture’ under any of the FLSA’s definitions.”). Nonetheless, the
DOL does not maintain any set of distinctions for seafood in the AWPA
regulations, nor does it propose to regulate the seafood industry at all. See 29
C.F.R. § 500 et seq.
The word “agricultural” as used in the AWPA is a direct legislative
descendant of the word’s use in the FLSA. The DOL has always interpreted that
word in the FLSA context to exclude seafood, and it has never given any indication
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that the word in the AWPA should include seafood. The AWPA definition of
agriculture is admittedly more expansive than the FLSA definition, but the DOL’s
failure to define the term indicates that it would not consider agriculture to be so
much more expansive that it encroaches into a completely distinct and separately
3. Courts have interpreted “agriculture” not to include seafood.
Court decisions provide further support that Congress never intended the
word “agriculture” in the AWPA, or the FLCRA or FLSA before it, to apply to
One court specifically considered whether oyster processing should be
included in the agricultural exemption of the FLSA. The answer was a resounding
“no.” The court reasoned that “having enacted a specific exemption applicable to
employees in the fishing industry, it seems unlikely that Congress intended to
exempt employees engaged in the same activities under a separate and different
provision relating to agricultural workers.” Coast Oyster Co. v. United States, 167
F. Supp. 460, 461 (W.D. Wash. 1958).
Although the AWPA is admittedly broader than the FLSA definition, the
Coast Oyster court’s reasoning provides additional support for the contention that
the FLSA definition of agriculture—the precursor to the AWPA definition—was
never meant to include seafood. Its reasoning is also pertinent to the AWPA. Since
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seafood workers are separately regulated and excluded from other uses of the word
“agriculture,” it seems highly unlikely that Congress would have meant to include
them in the AWPA definition of “agriculture” without explicitly saying so.
4. AWPA jurisprudence has not extended the definition of “agriculture” to
apply to seafood.
Lastly, I find nothing in modern AWPA jurisprudence that would extend the
Act’s coverage to oyster shuckers.
Plaintiffs contend that the Eleventh Circuit established a three-part test for
whether a product is an “agricultural or horticultural commodity” under the
AWPA. In Monrante-Navarro, the court determined that pine straw was an
agricultural commodity because it could be “produced by a natural process that can
be . . . enhanced by manual labor and cannot be put to commercial use without
human intervention.” Morante-Navarro, 350 F.3d at 1172. According to Plaintiffs,
the test for “whether a commodity is ‘agricultural’ for the purposes of the AWPA”
is whether it (1) is produced by a natural process, (2) can be enhanced by manual
labor, and (3) cannot be put to commercial use without human intervention. (See
Doc. 118 at 3.)
However, Morante-Navarro did not purport to establish a test or extend the
definition of agricultural products so far. Rather, the court was merely
summarizing its reasoning in determining that pine straw is an agricultural
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commodity. The court never framed its analysis to create a test, and even to the
extent that it can be construed as a test, it must be limited as within the realm of
what Congress has always considered to be “agriculture”—that is, farming,
cultivating, and other similar endeavors that occur on land. Congress has always
considered the sea and its fruits to be distinct and separately regulated apart from
anything labeled “agriculture,” and any test purporting to define agriculture can
only be as broad as the outer limits of Congress’s plausible intentions.
Rather, jurisprudence assessing whether products fall under the AWPA’s
third definition of agriculture have all involved land-based, rather than sea-based,
products. See, e.g., Morante-Navarro, 350 F.3d at 1172 (pine straw); Bresgal v.
Brock, 843 F.2d 1163, 1167 (9th Cir. 1988) (trees raised for crop); Bracamontes,
840 F.2d at 276 (5th Cir. 1988) (pine seedlings).
I cannot accept Plaintiffs’ arguments that this court should construe the
AWPA more broadly in order to effect the remedial and humanitarian purposes of
the Act. Although the Act was undoubtedly intended to expand the definition of
agriculture for humanitarian reasons, and I do not doubt the difficulties that
Plaintiffs have faced as a result of their experience as migrant workers, it is not the
place of this court to extend the definition into the seas when Congress appears to
have understood seafood to be something entirely different from “agriculture.” It
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must be left to Congress, not the courts, to enact such a significant and unexpected
expansion of this country’s labor laws.
For these reasons, I find that oysters are not an “agricultural or horticultural
product” within the AWPA’s definition of agricultural employment, 29 U.S.C. §
1802(3), and that oyster shuckers do not fall within the protections of the AWPA.
Because they fall outside the definition, I need not address the parties’ other
contentions as to whether the Act applies to oyster shuckers.
Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 118) is DENIED. The
relief requested in Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 121) is
GRANTED. Plaintiff’s remaining claims are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
The Clerk is directed to close the case.
ORDERED on September 10, 2014.
/S/ Richard Smoak
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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