Are farmers just refusing to hire Americans?
In several lawsuits, Georgia laborers are claiming that onion growers exhibit racial bias -- by creating harsh conditions to justify their use of Mexican guest workers over US citizens.
Are there jobs Americans won't do, or are there just jobs that employers make so undesirable that American workers don't want them?
Think about that the next time you slice up a Vidalia onion. The New York Times framed the current immigration debate in the story of onion pickers in Vidalia and Moultrie, Ga. The laborers, mostly black, say they want to work the fields there but are blocked by Mexican workers.
Farmers say that with local unemployment about 10% and the process for hiring foreign workers proving difficult -- guest workers have to be imported and housed and require extensive paperwork -- they'd prefer to hire local but can't get local labor to keep up the pace or stick around. The laborers contend that they are illegally discouraged from applying for work, crowded into disgusting camps, driven without a break and cheated of their wages.
Last month, Vidalia residents filed a federal lawsuit against a large grower of onions, Stanley Farms, alleging that it mistreated them and paid them less than it paid Mexican workers. Southern Valley farm in Moultrie was also sued by American workers, who said they had been fired because of their race and national origin, given less-desirable jobs and provided with fewer work opportunities than Mexican guest workers. Under a consent decree with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the farm agreed to make certain changes.
Neither the locals nor the farmers argue about the guest workers' efficiency. What is in question are the conditions those workers must endure to maximize that efficiency. They often work into the night seven days a week just to increase their pay.
"When Jose gets on the bus to come here from Mexico he is committed to the work," Jon Schwalls, director of operations at Southern Valley, told The Times. "It's like going into the military. He leaves his family at home. The work is hard, but he's ready. A domestic wants to know: What’s the pay? What are the conditions? In these communities, I am sorry to say, there are no fathers at home, no role models for hard work. They want rewards without input."
That sounds just a bit racist to folks at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., which argues that farm work would attract more Americans at a reasonable cost and that farmers should not be exempt from paying it. As wages stagnated and conditions worsened, a farm worker pool that was two-thirds American in the 1970s is made up of a vast majority of foreign workers today.
Those numbers may only expand, too, as Congress attempts to bring legal status to the nation’s 11 million unauthorized immigrants and expand the guest worker program. Right now, proposals include include increasing the number and category of temporary workers in the dairy and construction industries, and increasing their stays from a few months to three years.
This is a political thing. And anyone who believes different should just for the sake of it try getting a farm job for just one day. They say American's can"t work.But then they can and do work imported workers to death mostly because they don't complain. Wooo !!! What does that say about America.
Why is it that at first it was just farm jobs American's would not do and now it's expanded to construction. Next it will be all our Wally Mart jobs.
What happens when Wally Mart and McDonald jobs are all done by imports. And that is the new name for these people. Simply IMPORTS.
I grew up farming and after many years of playing dress-up in an office, I will go back to it the second I get the chance. I'd rather be poor and earn a living getting my fingernails dirty than shuffle numbers and papers around all day.
,the nerve of those american people actually expecting a decent wage for work in this country. typical of the wealthy in this country, treat you like they are better than you and pay you nothing. If they would pay people a wage they could live on in this country they could eliminate assistance and many would work for a living instead of bilking the system. It pays better to collect assistance than minimum wage.
America, let's face it....There are job's that the white, black & asian Americans won't do...period.
We won't go into the fields & pick produce....even if it was $12 an hour....period.
Americans have goten lazy, they want hi paying jobs w/cadliac health care. They don't want to pay alot for goods & products...so they shop at Wal-mart. Than they whine & cry about why everything's made in China.....Man, we really need to change our ways.
I almost never agree with the Southern Poverty Law Center but I think they're right this time.
Let's see, i am lazy and can not work as hard as my Mexican brother. I will sue.
pathetic, just pathetic.
this is what this country has come too. Heck man get a job you like. oh wait a minute,You didn't finish a free education and can only pick onions. Pathetic
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