Saturday, September 25, 2010

Migrant workers, the slaves of the 20th + 21st century


Hey it's caturday what'd you expect farm cat to be working.

In digging into the issue of migrant farm workers I find that they are treated worse than the slaves of the civil war era. How can that be you might ask? This is the 21st century. But according to historical documents based on interviews taken from the slaves themselves this appears to be true.

According to Genovese, slaves were fed, clothed, housed and provided medical care in a minimal manner. It was common for masters to pay slaves small bonuses at Christmas, and some slave owners permitted their slaves to keep earnings and gambling profits.

Today farm workers salaries average $7500 per year. That's not even enough to rent a place. Many sleep in tents or share a trailer packed in with several other coworkers because most farms don't provide shelter. A migrant worker works 60 to 80 hours with no overtime pay. In addition to long hours in the hot sun, most of their work is from April to November, workers are exposed to pesticides and herbicides. Imagine working crouched over even 10 hours a day six or seven days a week. And workers aren't covered by Labor and Industries laws. Is it any wonder that farm owners hire illegals and pay them even less than the going rates and who are they going to complain to anyway?

But the real kicker in all of this was when I heard the senator (rethuglican) complain that these workers get unemployment in his state. He said they can get up to $360 a week and that that was putting a drain on his state. I've got news for that senator at an average salary of $7500 that works out to less than $200 a week and unemployment only pays 80% of that. I'd like to see him try to live on that.

(A slight aside) A while back I was watching a documentary about where our tuna comes from and the working conditions of those people. I'm not talking about Deadliest Catch either where those Alaska fishermen haul in tons of fish and get a percentage of the catch. In asian waters its a different story. This is where all of your canned tuna comes from. It worked out to about $3 a day for the worker which was about enough to buy food for yourself, no shelter nothing else.

And what people fail to realize are the hidden costs when the worker must use the local hospital and can't pay the bill. But haven't we seen all this before with the way Wal Mart does business? So it makes you wonder what it would really cost to give a livable wage, an extra 5 or 10 cents a pound?

9 comments:

The Blog Fodder said...

The intent of the very rich is to return to what they have lost over the past couple of hundred years - the class structure. They would seriously like all workers the world over to be treated like the migrant workers and the very rich, the world over to control them. They are undoing the gains that began with the Age of Enlightenment and we are returning to nobility and serfs.

an average patriot said...

Did you watch Colbert address Congress on the issue. I didn't know what to think sometimes but Colbert was pretty good

Demeur said...

Jim you missed the senator who spoke right after. He's the one I refer to but I can't remember his name. I was too pissed.

BBC said...

Maybe you should stop worrying about what others are doing and worry about what you are doing?

Demeur said...

I do enough of that Billy thank you very much.

S.W. Anderson said...

That was a House hearing.

I think part of the discrepancy about pay and unemployment involves whether the migrant worker is legal or illegal. Some farmers and other employers take full advantage of the fact illegals don't dare complain to authorities, for fear of being arrested and deported. So they are wide open for being exploited and abused.

Legal migrant workers, guest workers, do get at least minimum wage and some protections. But I'm pretty sure they don't get unemployment.

Oso said...

Very nice post,Demeur.I hadn't heard that Rethug unemployment thing but of course no surprise there.

The Right consistently showcases the virtues of hard work, yet their racism causes them to vilify and scapegoat these hard working people. Tragic.

an average patriot said...

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer: Stephen Colbert was an 'embarrassment' I agree but it is moral-less Congress who should be embarrassed
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer: Stephen Colbert was an 'embarrassment'

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