Category Archives: farmworkers
The scumbags that bring over van loads of illegals is one thing…but when American companies and/or corporations do it…the feds better hang those bastards from the highest tree. From a NYT editorial:
A conspiracy indictment was brought last week against a Los Angeles company, alleging forced labor on a chilling scale. Six contractors are accused of a scheme to hold 400 workers from Thailand in virtual slavery on farms in Hawaii and Washington State. The Justice Department says it is the largest human-trafficking case ever brought by the federal government. Just as disturbing is how familiar the accusations are.
The company, Global Horizons Manpower, is accused of abusing the federal guest worker program, known as H-2A, in 2004 and 2005 and luring workers with false promises of steady work at decent pay. The workers, poor men from the Thai countryside, took on crushing debt to pay exorbitant recruiting fees, about $9,500 to $21,000. After they arrived in America, according to the indictment, their passports were taken and they were set up in shoddy housing and told that if they complained or fled they would be fired, arrested or deported.
The case, brought in Honolulu, coincides with the sentencing on Thursday of two Hawaii farmers, Mike and Alec Sou, who pleaded guilty in January to a forced-labor scheme involving 44 Thai workers. The Sous worked with Global Horizons before but are linked to the latest case only by the methods they admitted to using.
How do you think the nutters on the right will view this fuckery? They are the ones always bitching and moaning about undocumented workers or the guest worker program…and frankly…this horseshit really makes me want to go postal on someone’s ass. If I hear the words free market attached to this story or used to justify this crime, I will take a baseball bat to the individual’s head.
Farmworkers have been abused in this fashion for decades and decades m’dear reader. Again from the editorial:
American history is full of examples of large-scale abuses of farmworkers, from the Bracero program for Mexicans in the 1940s to the present day. The Bush administration, which was in charge of the H-2A program at the time Global Horizons is accused of doing its worst, generally turned a blind eye to wage-and-hour enforcement. In its waning days, it issued new rules that gutted worker pay and labor protections in the program.
I live in the San Joaquin valley, and I know of this bullshit and how long it has been going on. We, as American’s, eat our cheap produce without giving a fucking thought to the human that stood out in the sun for 8 -10 hours to harvest it. The pay scale is dehumanizing and its disgusting…they make pennies while the farmer gets rich off their back breaking work.
In the abuse of legal foreign workers, the numbers vary but the methods are the same. It is slavery without shackles. Its perpetrators seldom have to resort to violence or even threats of violence. Since workers are buried in debt before they even leave their home countries, the threat of being fired and deported is enough.
To lose a guest-worker job means irreparable harm: destitution, unpayable debt, the loss of mortgaged family land. Under those conditions, a worker will accept any abuse, live and work in squalor and do what he is told. Everyone else — the middlemen; the companies that get “cheap, compliant labor,” in the words of the Global Horizons indictment; and the grocery buyers who eat cheap, fresh produce, subsidized by suffering — is satisfied.
Next time you eat a salad or a piece of fruit…think of the men, women and yes…children that harvested that food for you…and how they are being fucked by their employer and our government. These people have no rights..and that is criminal in and of itself.
Cesar Estrada Chavez would of been 82 today. He is buried up the road from me in Keene, CA which I drive by every time I go east. He left this world on April 23,1993.
I marched with him. I took shit from the cops and rednecks for him and the cause of Farmworkers being paid a living wage. I had vegetables thrown at me, I had obscenities screamed at me for my belief in Cesar and his mission to get a living wage and decent working conditions for farm workers. I have picked fruit. I know what it’s like to be a farm worker.
I would do it all again. In a NY minute. From Las Culturas:
On April 29, 1993, Cesar Estrada Chavez was honored in death by those he led in life. More than 50,000 mourners came to honor the charismatic labor leader at the site of his first public fast in 1968 and his last in 1988, the United Farm Workers Delano Field Office at “Forty Acres.”
It was the largest funeral of any labor leader in the history of the U.S. They came in caravans from Florida to California to pay respect to a man whose strength was in his simplicity.
Farm workers, family members, friends and union staff took turns standing vigil over the plain pine coffin which held the body of Cesar Chavez. Among the honor guard were many celebrities who had supported Chavez throughout his years of struggle to better the lot of farmworkers throughout America.
Many of the mourners had marched side by side with Chavez during his tumultuous years in the vineyards and farms of America. For the last time, they came to march by the side of the man who had taught them to stand up for their rights, through nonviolent protest and collective bargaining.
Cardinal Roger M. Mahoney, who celebrated the funeral mass, called Chavez “a special prophet for the worlds’ farm workers.” Pall bearers, including crews of these workers, Chavez children and grandchildren, then carried their fallen leader, resting at last, from the Memorial Park to Forty Acres.
The death of Chavez marked an era of dramatic changes in American agriculture. His contributions would be eroded, and others would have to shoulder the burden of his work. But, Cesar Chavez, who insisted that those who labor in the earth were entitled to share fairly in the rewards of their toil, would never be forgotten.
We can not forget him…ever. We also can never forget the farm workers and what they deal with to make a living…ever. You might not understand why this is important to me, but I hope you get the gist of it.
No one works harder for a living than farm workers, and they do it for pennies. They still die in the fields because of heat stroke or because some asshole farmer had a field sprayed while the workers were working there, every year here in the San Joaquin valley. It gets over 100 daily here in the summer. But no one goes to jail here for a dead farm worker.
There is still lots of work to be done and the UFW is trying to level the playing field. Eight states recognize Cesar Chavez’s birthday with a state holiday. Yet… all 50 states eat the food farm workers pick….