Part 1: Labor in the year 2008, support immigrant farmworkers.

Labor in the year 2008 is a concept that has been on my mind for some time now, I am trying to get to the bottom of the manner in which we as Americans have driven wedges between ourselves, with the help of the main stream media, encouragement of the government and most importantly our own damn selfish and ignorant mannerisms. We stand as a country divided into small separate pieces of what was once a united force of working class families. Here is the first part of a new collection of thoughts on what has changed in the world around us. How we have helped the war against the American worker and what we can do to change the tide before it is too late.

How did we get here?

The year is 2008 and in my life experiences I have seen some changes, but lets go back to what we came from before I was conceived.

I come from an Italian, Irish, Scottish and German background. My grandparents on both side were either union members or in the case of my fathers mother, married to one.

All had a fair slew of children, and while times were hard, with the help of being union members and being part of tight knit communities, they were able to provide for their families.

I can go on about that much more, but heres the main point, one year after Martin Luther King received the Nobel Peace Prize, and 2 after the greatest speech ever told, with a little help from WikiPedia
In 1965, Filipino American farm workers initiated the Delano grape strike on September 8, 1965, to protest in favor of higher wages. Six months later, Chávez and the NFWA led a strike of California grape pickers on the historic farmworkers march from Delano to the California state capitol in Sacramento for similar goals. In addition to the strike, the UFW encouraged all Americans to boycott table grapes as a show of support. The strike lasted five years and attracted national attention.
I was brought up into a family that forever told the story of how absolutely no one would buy California grapes. Not your friends, not your butcher and not your landlord.

We were Americans, be it from Ireland, Italy or the Philippines, we had community and although there were great racial tensions, ignorance and fear. Working people stuck together. Communities of working class people stuck together.

America was healing from the racial divide, labor was on the rise and the American family could eek it bye on one salary.

What happened?

We now have a new slave class. New immigrants who are encouraged by their own governments to enter the country illegally. Why not? The US dollars wind up into the originating countries economy. From the meatpacking industry, construction, farming to service work, illegal immigration is a highly lucrative business. It lets companies get away with having the tax-paying citizens subsidize their own tax burden. It has also thrown back the labor standards into that of a third world country. It is the force that could potentially break the back of organized labor here in the US.

Slavery and/or slave like conditions are getting more widespread in the USA, more than 100 years after it was abolished.

While most of my readers have read about sweatshop construction practices, most recently the 400 or so pipefitters from India who came here for the price of $20,000 a head, were lied to and told that the investment would provide them an eventual Green Card, when all they actually got was an 11 month H2B Visa. The conditions in which they work were deplorable to say the least. Never mind the fact that the Visa's which were issued are for workers when there isn't a qualified American to do the job. I for one know matter of factly that there are quite a few Americans ready, willing and able to do that work. It's a blatant display of outright fucking of the American worker, and the by-product of which is that these Indian workers got screwed in the process.

What have we become?

Why are corporations so monstrous in their methods of totally screwing working people?

When is the beating of the working man and woman in the United States going to end?

Is it going to end?

Well heres a campaign which brings us to the original topic at hand, todays new immigrants on the farms are no longer from the Philippines, but the conditions have not gotten better. In fact according to the AFL-CIO's WebBlog, the tomato fields in South Florida are among the most deplorable slave like working conditions here in the US:
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More than 100 years after our nation ended slavery, the mostly immigrant workers who today pick tomatoes for the fast-food industry still are being treated like slaves. They are among the most exploited workers in the country, sometimes held against their will, beaten and forced to work for little or no pay. Thousands more are trying to survive on poverty wages with no sick leave and no freedom to join unions for a better life.

They are fighting back, demanding to be treated fairly, and they need your help. The workers are reaching out to 1 million people to sign a petition demanding that Burger King and food industry leaders work with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) to improve the wages and conditions for the workers who pick tomatoes.

You can act now to urge Burger King to do the right thing and treat these workers with common human decency and respect. Click here to sign the petition to eliminate modern-day servitude in America’s produce fields and join an industry wide effort to eliminate slavery and human rights abuses from Florida’s fields.

We can make a difference, Get E-Active, sign the petition, we owe it to our forefathers who 40 years ago would have boycotted, signing a petition is the least we can do. Here in America we have workers who are enduring...
  • poverty wages, rooted in an antiquated piece-rate pay system that hasn’t changed significantly in nearly 30 years;

  • long hours without overtime pay when work is available, unemployment and transience when it is not;

  • physical abuse and wage fraud by crewleaders, supervisors, and growers;

  • damage to body and soul from back-breaking labor, with no employment benefits such as sick days, paid leave, health insurance, or pensions;

  • retaliation against workers who protest or organize to alleviate these inhuman conditions;

  • and, most shamefully, modern-day slavery, with six successful federal prosecutions of farm labor operations for servitude in Florida over the past decade, and a seventh just initiated, involving well over 1,000 workers and more than a dozen farm employers;
The so-called greatest country in the world, we supposedly go after evil doers. Maybe we should look in the mirror. Our forefathers would have fought for a way for these workers to enter our country legally, would have fought for them to earn an honest living and held them to learn English as the standard language. It suits the big corps well that the division of the working class is widening.

They encourage it with their bipartisan donations and lobbying efforts.

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1 comment:

The Union Girl said...

The H2 visas also cause much of these issues you're touching on.

I highly recommend a dailykos post here: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/3/30/225057/708/726/487436
How the University Works has more on it. http://howtheuniversityworks.com/wordpress/

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