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.
from San Diego to Sonoma
Natives died from disease
The effects of slavery and prejudice.
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
Average wage of $8.73/hour
Work an average of 36.8
hours per week
Average wage $9.95/hr.
Work an average of 39.9 hours
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
$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 schoolThe IssuesWages
1/3 of agriculture workers receive piece rate pay
Advantage to employer- faster workers make more money
Minimum standards are set and enforced
May result in lower quality work
Experienced workers make more money
Can lead to more injuries as workers increase their pace.
Ladder injuriesPiece Rate VersusHourly Rate
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.
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
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.
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 issuesFarm Labor Contractors
semiskilled and skilled tasks
risk for pesticide
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 capitolUnited Farm Workers of America