News/US: More 'legal' farm workers a cruel hoax

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Subject: News/US: More 'legal' farm workers a cruel hoax
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Sun Feb 06 2000 - 10:43:05 EST


More 'legal' farm workers a cruel hoax
Carlos Guerra (columnist)
San Antonio Express-News, Monday, Jan 24, 2000

America's agricultural history is one of an ever-expanding food supply, but
how the cultivators and harvesters of our nation's growing bounty fared is
far less impressive.

In its early days, America developed a heavy reliance on indentured
servants and African slaves for the most labor-intensive agricultural
endeavors, and before both forms of servitude were outlawed, the first of
successive waves of immigrants arrived to take their place in the fields.

In the first half of the 20th century, most workers won important legal
protections, such as minimum wage, 40-hour workweek, worker compensation
and unemployment insurance, workplace conditions and safety, and the ban on
child labor.

Agricultural workers were specifically exempted from all these protections
in their original forms, and some of these exemptions remain.

Today, most agricultural production is mechanized, says Joel Najar, an
immigration policy analyst of the National Council of La Raza. But
agribusiness still relies heavily on farm workers -- including many
immigrants, legal and otherwise -- for most fruit, vegetable and tobacco
production.

[snip]

http://www.mysa.com/pantheon/news-bus/guerra/2501bguerra0123nz.shtml

Melanie Orhant

morhant@igc.org
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