Press Release

Open Markets Files Amicus Brief in Support of Immigrants Fighting for Competitive Wages

Open Markets files brief in support of petition to get full Tenth Circuit to rehear case

Washington, DC – Open Markets filed an amicus brief in support of thousands of immigrant shepherds who allege they are the victims of a cartel among ranchers in the Western United States.

The shepherds – here on a guest worker program from Peru – in 2015 sued the ranchers and their associations for colluding to suppress their wages. The federal district court in Colorado dismissed the shepherds’ antitrust claims, ruling that they failed to show the existence of an agreement among the ranchers not to compete for the shepherds’ labor. A three-judge panel on the Tenth Circuit affirmed the dismissal.

In this case, the Peruvian shepherds allege that the ranchers agreed among themselves to not make wage offers higher than the relevant minimum wage to the immigrant shepherds, a clear violation of the Sherman Act. The shepherds work long hours in harsh conditions, often without access to bathrooms and other basic amenities. They receive wages as low as $4.50 an hour in some states.

“We believe that the plaintiffs have shown the existence of a collusive agreement among the ranchers and that the panel’s decision is bad law and threatens to encourage other employer cartels,” said Open Markets Legal Director Sandeep Vaheesan. “Whether it’s the ranches of Colorado or tech firms of Silicon Valley, when corporate cartels collude to set wages, they cheat immigrant and American-born workers. Accordingly, in our amicus brief, we support the shepherds’ petition asking the full Tenth Circuit – composed of twelve active judges – to rehear the case.”

Read the brief here.

For more information:

Open Markets Institute – Food & Power: Court Decision Against Peruvian Shepherds Sets Dangerous Precedent for U.S. Workers