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Farm workers are tired of being blamed by politicians and anti-immigrant activists for taking work that should go to Americans and dragging down the economy, said Arturo Rodriguez, the president of the United Farm Workers of America.
So the group is encouraging the unemployed — and any Washington pundits or anti-immigrant activists who want to join them — to apply for the some of thousands of agricultural jobs being posted with state agencies as harvest season begins.
All applicants need to do is fill out an online form under the banner "I want to be a farm worker" at www.takeourjobs.org..., and experienced field hands will train them and connect them to farms.
Those who have done the job have some words of advice for applicants: First, dress appropriately.
During summer, when the harvest of fruits and vegetables is in full swing in California's Central Valley, temperatures hover in the triple digits. Heat exhaustion is one of the reasons farm labor consistently makes the Bureau of Labor Statistics' top ten list of the nation's most dangerous jobs.
Second, expect long days. Growers have a small window to pick fruit before it is overripe.
And don't count on a big paycheck. Farm workers are excluded from federal overtime provisions, and small farms don't even have to pay the minimum wage. Fifteen states don't require farm labor to be covered by workers compensation laws.
January 24, 2010 9:55 PM
BY JAMES GILBERT, SUN STAFF WRITER
Every season Yuma-area harvesting and produce-packing companies worry whether they will have enough hands to harvest their valuable crops of fruits and vegetables.
One way these employers have been getting those "hands" is through the H-2A temporary agricultural worker program, which allows them to bring foreign workers in from Mexico to harvest their fields...
...Duron explained that in order for Yuma-area harvesting and produce-packing companies to get temporary seasonal workers through the H-2A program, they first must file a petition with the U.S. Department of Labor indicating that there are not sufficient workers who are able, willing, qualified and available to do the job.
"Before they can hire temporary workers, the employers must have first tried to hire U.S. workers to fill the jobs," Duron said.
Duron said there are fewer migrant workers this year compared to last year because fewer acres of produce were planted this year and more domestic workers have returned to the field due to the poor economy....
....Flores said he earns about $400 a week, less than in past years when he could take home $500 weekly.
Duron said companies that hire migrant workers through the program are required to provide them with free housing, a minimum wage of $8.70 an hour, free transportation back and forth from the work site and $9.90 a day for food.
To highlight how unlikely the prospect of Americans lining up to pick strawberries or grapes, Comedy Central's "Colbert Report" plans to feature the "Take Our Jobs" campaign on July 8.
The campaign is being played for jokes, but the need to secure the right to work for immigrants who are here is serious business, said Michael Rubio, supervisor in Kern County, one of the biggest ag producing counties in the nation.
Originally posted by kyred
I haven't been following what wages are for tobacco cutters here in Kentucky, recently, but about 8 years ago, a good tobacco cutter could earn around 13 dollars an hour cutting and sticking tobacco. That of course, depends on the cutters speed. 13 cents a stick, and about 100 sticks per hour. Pretty good wages for a few weeks during the season. It's hard and hot work though. And a cutter can get sick from all that exposure to the fresh tobacco juice. Along came some Mexicans who were willing to work for 11 cents a stick and had no overhead. Of course the farmers would hire the Mexicans. They worked just as hard as the regular seasonal workers. The regular workers had families and a house to pay for, or at least an apartment to pay rent on. The Mexicans had family they send money home to, but no rent to pay. They live in a shed or barn on a farm during the cutting season. It's rather difficult for an American to take back these jobs from the immigrant seasonal workers. If they worked harder and faster, yes, they get more money. But consider they were already working at pretty much maximum capacity as it is.
I have noticed a recent trend, though. Less Mexican immigrants in my area. I don't know why, but it's quite obvious.
Man, though, those Mexican workers sure do work hard, though. I admire them for their stamina and ability to adapt quickly to work conditions.
Thinking back to last August when I had a new metal roof put on my house. The employees were Americans. By 1 PM, they were through. Too hot up there for them to continue. But at the same time, I could see Mexicans doing construction labor nearby and they worked damn near until sundown, right through the heat of the day.