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Appeals court backs US Labor Department, judge in dispute over Michigan cucumber pickers

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COPEMISH, Michigan — An appeals court agrees with a Grand Rapids federal judge who found that workers on a northern Michigan pickle farm were employees, not independent contractors.

The U.S. Labor Department sued Darryl Howes and his farm in Copemish in Manistee County. He was accused of violating laws during the cucumber harvest three years ago.

The government says migrant workers got less than the minimum wage and were given poor housing. The farm grows cucumbers that are turned into pickles.

An appeals court last week released only a two-page opinion because it said Judge Gordon Quist's 2014 decision was "fully articulated."

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