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Agricultural Labor & Immigration Issues. California’s First Laborers. 64,500 Native California Indians Spanish Colonists – 21 California Missions from San Diego to Sonoma Natives died from disease The effects of slavery and prejudice. 1883-23,000 Indians remaining. The Chinese.

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california s first laborers
California’s First Laborers
  • 64,500 Native California Indians
  • Spanish Colonists – 21 California Missions

from San Diego to Sonoma

Natives died from disease

The effects of slavery and prejudice.

  • 1883-23,000 Indians

remaining

the chinese
The Chinese
  • California Gold Rush-Foreign Miner’s Tax
  • Independent miners, entrepreneurs, professionals, and artisans
  • Transcontinental Railroad-Sierra Nevada
  • The Delta water system
  • Establishment of orchard crops
  • Tongs-an attempt at organized

labor

  • 1883-Chinese immigration

halted

the japanese
The Japanese
  • Issei and Nisei-hard workers
  • Strawberries-leased land, wanted to own land
  • California’s Alien Land Law of 1913, 3 yr. limit on leasing then no leasing
  • Immigration stopped in 1924
  • Pearl Harbor-camps and deportation
  • 1944-camps closed-allowed to go back to Japan but 57,000 stayed
  • Local stories….
mexican labor
Mexican Labor
  • World War I-workers from India & Pakistan
  • Prior to WWI, Mexican workers joined the labor force but were stopped by Civil War in Mexico
  • 1917-1st Bracero program-many problems so halted in 1921 but Mexicans continued to cross the border
the great depression
The Great Depression
  • Mexicans sent home
  • 285,000 “Okies” and “Arkies” escape the Dust Bowl hoping to establish family farms
  • “Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck
  • World War II-workers to army and industry
  • Bracero agreements
how did california agriculture labor become different from the rest of the united states
How Did California Agriculture Labor Become Different From The Rest of the United States?
  • Wheat fields were replaced by orchards, vineyards, vegetable production all require hand harvest.
  • Farm labor workforce-relatively unskilled, seasonal laborers willing to work for low wages in short, intermittent bursts, follow the harvest.
  • Proximity to Mexico for seasonal labor needs
  • Landowners increase their use of immigrant workers as irrigation was perfected –turbine pump in the 1920’s
  • Laborers were transient and totally dependent on available work leading to chronic poverty
today s farm worker
Today’s Farm Worker

1/3 jobs are in crop harvest

82% are men

61% are married

9/10 work in fruit, nuts, and vegetables

Average 6 years of education

Average age is 33

Most expect to remain in farm work

56% have children

3/10 are employed by Farm Labor Contractors

<10% speak or read English fluently

8/10 hold 2 or more farm jobs in a 1 year period

economic significance of farm workers
Economic Significance of Farm Workers
  • United States: 749,000 workers

Average wage of $8.73/hour

Work an average of 36.8

hours per week

  • California: 128,000 workers

Average wage $9.95/hr.

Work an average of 39.9 hours

per week

  • San Joaquin Region: 50,900 workers
farm labor vs non farm labor
Farm Labor vs. Non-Farm Labor
  • Industry earnings: $9.27 in textile mills to $20.44 in primary metal manufacturing
the issues wages
Employers

Farm labor is extremely important!

Labor intensive, strenuous work raises labor costs and makes it difficult to find workers

Cost of labor is 20% to 40% of production costs

Farm Laborers

$8 to $10 an hour

versus $14 to $15 per hour in industry

Strenuous work in all types of weather

Chronic labor shortage

Can’t be hired from the unemployment lines…. Many people refuse to work in ag labor.

Only 12% speak English, 85% have not finished high school

The IssuesWages
piece rate versus hourly rate
Farmers

1/3 of agriculture workers receive piece rate pay

Examples?

Advantage to employer- faster workers make more money

Minimum standards are set and enforced

May result in lower quality work

Workers

Experienced workers make more money

Can lead to more injuries as workers increase their pace.

Ladder injuries

Piece Rate VersusHourly Rate
immigration issues
U.S. Government

Bracero Program-1942 to 1964-fairly successful immigration program.

Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986-onus on employers-noncompliance equals fines and jail time

1985-86-unauthorized persons allowed to apply for immigrant status

Current issue – employers are responsible for proving their employees are legal.

Immigrants

Poverty caused by fear of returning to Mexico and not being allowed back into the U.S.

Reforms thought to improve wages and benefits through a legal workforce might result in legal workers moving to industry and an increase in illegal immigration

Illegal workers now make up 50% of the immigrant workforce

Agriculture

Construction

Hospitality

Immigration Issues
farm labor contractors
Farmers

Don’t have to deal directly with the workers

Can overcome language barriers

Ample supply of workers when needed

Training provided by contractor

All paperwork completed by contractor – workman’s compensation, payroll, taxes and deductions.

Workers

Recruiters responsible to train new workers

Exploitation-contractors make money off other services-banking, food, lodging, transportation

No written contracts-labor law violations

Day-haul labor markets

Transportation issues

Farm Labor Contractors
housing
Housing
  • 800,000 people hired to work on California farms yearly
  • There are 2,100 family housing units in 26 centers and each houses fewer than two workers
  • An additional 1,044 centers will house five or more workers leaving the remaining workers to find housing from private sources – big problem in some areas (Napa, Sonoma)
  • Government agencies; subsidized housing through government grants and loans
  • 13% on employer provided housing, 37% live with family members, 50% pay an average of $238/mo. rent
other farm worker issues
Other Farm Worker Issues
  • Less than 1/3 of workers have CA driver’s licenses
  • 70% pay an average of $5 per day for transportation to work
  • 97% say they pay for their own tools even though the employer is required to pay
  • Lack of health care
more farm worker issues
More Farm Worker Issues
  • Technology has reduced

available jobs

  • Training needed in

semiskilled and skilled tasks

  • Farm workers are at

risk for pesticide

exposure

changes in farm labor regulations
Changes in Farm Labor Regulations
  • Sanitation
    • Farmers must provide restrooms within a reasonable walking distance.
    • Female workers must have their own restroom facilites.
    • Hand washing water and soap must be available.
  • Pesticide Training
    • Farm workers handling and applying pesticides must have specific training in their native language.
    • Appropriate protective equipment must be provided by the employer (goggles, disposeable clothes, gloves etc.)
  • Working Conditions
    • Employer must provide water and appropriate breaks especially in extreme weather.
laws regulations
Laws & Regulations
  • U.S. Dept. of Labor-Employer must provide Wages, Workers Compensation & Social Security
  • U.S. Code-Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act
  • USDA Labor Affairs-immigration, H-2A Temporary Agricultural Worker Program, Worker Protection Standards for pesticide use, agricultural labor supply, and farm worker employment
laws regulations20
Laws & Regulations
  • Targeted Industries Partnership Program (1992) requires state and federal agencies to inspect sanitary facilities
  • U.S. Immigration & Naturalization Service-employment eligibility verification I-9 form
  • California Labor Code-Wages, Hours and Working Conditions; Agricultural Labor Relations; Farm Labor Contractors; Workers' Compensation
  • Agricultural Labor Relations Board
early organized labor
Early Organized Labor
  • Early attempts at organized labor met with “threats of deportation, widespread arrests, strikebreakers and violence
  • Strikes in 1930, 32 and 33-Agriculture Workers Union-higher wages
  • National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) formed in 1962 by Cesar Chavez which later became the United Farm Workers of America.
united farm workers of america
Based in Delano, California

Originally chartered in 1966 as the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee

Chavez- president-firm believer in peaceful demonstration and negotiation

Joined Filipino grape pickers in 1965-nationwide boycott of California table grapes-higher wages

1966-march on Sacramento-70 workers led by Chavez-grew to 10,000 as they approached the state capitol

United Farm Workers of America
slide23
1968-Grape boycott worldwide-$25 million lawsuit by 100 grape growers and shippers against Chavez and the UFW
  • 1970-grape workers reach contract agreements-lettuce boycott begins
  • 1973-United Farm Workers of America-60,000 farm workers-new round of boycotts for grape growers
  • 1988-Chavez fasts for 36 days to protest pesticide use.
  • 1990-Chavez negotiates an agreement with the Mexican government- Mexican farm workers in the U.S. can provide medical benefits to their families in Mexico
  • Chavez-receives Aguila Azteca, highest Mexican civilian award
  • Cesar Chavez dies of natural causes on April 23, 1993 in San Luis, Arizona
  • Chavez receives the U.S. Medal of Freedom from Pres. Clinton in 1994 Cesar Chavez Day-March 31st
  • http://www.pbs.org/itvs/fightfields/cesarchavez.html
comparison of agricultural wages around the world
Comparison of Agricultural Wages around the world:
  • Mexico – farm labor makes 50-60 pesos per day (about $5)
  • El Salvador –
  • Chile –
  • China –
  • America - $80-100 per day….
california ag labor
California Ag Labor
  • Remember California has some of the most stringent employer requirements and one of the highest minimum wages in the USA.
  • Workers are required to receive pesticide training, regular breaks and sanitary working conditions.
  • These conditions and precautions don’t exist in many countries that the USA imports food from – remember to support LOCAL agriculture!
  • “Fair Trade” commodities??