NETANYA, ISRAEL - FEBRUARY 22: Freshly picked green and yellow beans are on sale in the local produce market February 22, 2006 in Netanya in central Israel. (Photo by David Silverman/Getty Images)
Photographer: David Silverman/Getty Images
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MIAMI (AP) - The U.S. Department of Labor is cracking down on the agricultural industry's treatment of seasonal workers -- starting in Florida's green bean fields.
The Department's Wage and Hour Division announced Monday that during March officials investigated complaints in Florida fields and packing houses near Homestead and so far have recovered more than $670,000 for nearly 600 workers. They've levied more than $128,000 in penalties and will continue investigations in Florida and along the East Coast.
Officials are also trying to educate migrant workers about their labor rights, including basic tenets like access to toilets and drinking water. The department says it also wants to ensure that employers who follow the rules are not at a competitive disadvantage against those who break them.
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Last week, the I-Team was there when 99-year-old Willi Berchau was released from Florida's guardianship program after a three year court battle.