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Walk for Farmworker Justice update for Tuesday, 19 June 2001

Walk for Farmworker Justice update for Tuesday, 19 June 2001
Calling NORPAC to the table

Tuesday began at the Centro Cultural Community Center in Cornelius. After a breakfast of cooked rice and milk (cow or soy), everyone gathered outside. Multicolored signs and a giant puppet rose into the clear blue sky. Walkers practiced chants. Peacekeepers in their orange vests coordinated with each other. Everyone suited up, stretched, and got ready to go.

Atop a pick-up truck that would be leading the Walk, the organizers had built a simple piece of installation art meant to represent their demands: a table covered with a "rich bounty of food" (paper mache), and surrounded by four chairs. Three represented, respectively, the farmworker, the consumer, and the organizations that are trying to help (the Eccumenical Ministries, PCUN, etc.). The fourth, left empty was for NORPAC, to represent the Walk organizers invitation to the cooperative to "join the table" and address the workers' needs.

Around 9:00, the Walk started, led by a bright yellow banner, through the streets of Cornelius. The march suffered no obstacles except an ambulance. No one had any trouble from cars or people. The peacekeepers kept people on the sidewalks, and made sure the walkers didn't get too spread out. The whole way, the walkers chanted slogans.



Strawberry Fields

Outside of Cornelius, the Walk reached a field where workers were harvesting strawberries. Far away, they toiled under the sun. These particular workers make 15 cents for every pound of strawberries they harvest, but this field had already been hit earlier in the season, so the fruit was very small. More work, then, was necessary to gather a pound. The walkers stopped here, lined up along the road, and attempted to communicate to them through bullhorns. Individuals made their own pleas, and the walkers chanted Spanish slogans in unison. Though the workers paused at first, and stood to see what was happening, they were soon back to work again. There is little time when one is making so little money per pound.

Some participants on the Walk were surprised to find such a small number of people in those particular fields that day, and wondered if NORPAC, knowing the Walk would be coming this way, had sent the majority of workers elsewhere.

Farm worker Justice? 20.Jun.2001 12:56

Jon Carr

So, I am just curious and anybody is free to respond to this and prove me wrong—I would very much like to be proven wrong.

How do the supporters of farmworker justice respond to the claim that farmworkers do in fact make a fair wage, especially when compared to their skill level and the wages made by workers in other fields such as childcare, manufacturing, and service jobs.

Also, how much of this march and the protest is actually supported by the farmworker community—of the marchers, how many of them are actual farmworkers and how many of them belong to churches or non-profits or are Latino/Latina college students. How much support do you have from the community you are trying to help?

Or how about this statement: Most farmworkers are happy to get what they have. If it was so bad, why do they risk their lives to come here?

They don't speak English, they have a low level of formal education, they are unskilled—why shouldn't they make minimum wage or perhaps a little better (the average farmworker wage in Oregon is somewhere around $8.50 an hour—most would consider this pretty good for a no-skill job).

Is it fair to target only the agricultural industry? Why not a march against fast food chains (we all know how evil they are) or manufacturing?

Why can't we view these ag-jobs as good opportunities for struggling people who may not be able to find employment anyplace else?


I'll stop there.

I welcome all other viewpoints.

J.C.

Response to Mr. Bucannan 21.Jun.2001 00:21

Jibba Jabba

>So, I am just curious and anybody is free to respond to >this and prove me wrong—I would very much like to be >proven wrong.

>How do the supporters of farmworker justice respond to the >claim that farmworkers do in fact make a fair wage, >especially when compared to their skill level and the >wages made by workers in other fields such as childcare, >manufacturing, and service jobs.

A fair wage is a wage someone can feed themselves and the family they support with. Maybe in your world "fair" is market driven, but for us its about dignity.


>Also, how much of this march and the protest is actually >supported by the farmworker community—of the marchers, how >many of them are actual farmworkers and how many of them >belong to churches or non-profits or are Latino/Latina >college students. How much support do you have from the >community you are trying to help?

This march was organized by a coalition of organizations.
Amongst them was PCUN, (Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste)a democratic union whos membership is 98% Latino.

I love these "Yer' just er buncha bleedin' hart' liberals!" statements.


>Or how about this statement: Most farmworkers are happy to >get what they have. If it was so bad, why do they risk >their lives to come here?

How about that! What a load of BS!

They risked gun toting maniacs because NAFTA made it WORSE in Mexico. Of course they are happy, now they are only being exploited, before they were also starving.

Give me a break.


>They don't speak English, they have a low level of formal >education, they are unskilled—why shouldn't they make >minimum wage or perhaps a little better (the average >farmworker wage in Oregon is somewhere around $8.50 an >hour—most would consider this pretty good for a no-skill >job).

They don't speak english?! JESUS! What a bigot.......
Hey, while I have you here. I've always wanted to know, what do you use as an accelerant for those crosses?

Complete nonsense.

You show me some proof that workers make 8.50 an hour? If you would remove your hood you would see that not only do workers often make only minimum wage but are often required to pay money for the privledge of working on a farm.

>Is it fair to target only the agricultural industry? Why >not a march against fast food chains (we all know how evil >they are) or manufacturing?

Well, they are the ones NOT paying the wages.
However, it just so happens that they aren't the only targets. Bon Appetit has been pressured into no longer purchasing their product from NORPAC.

>Why can't we view these ag-jobs as good opportunities for >struggling people who may not be able to find employment >anyplace else?

Same reason I can't view your comments as anything but reactionary conservative droolings........ it wouldn't be true.

>I'll stop there.

Thank God.

>I welcome all other viewpoints.

>J.C.

Responding to Jon Carr 21.Jun.2001 07:45

Jeremy David Stolen fellowtraveler@riseup.net

Some farmworkers are not paid hourly, but by how much they pick. The strawberry pickers mentioned above get 15 cents for every pound of fruit. According to Ramon Ramirez, president of PCUN, it is unlikely that these workers are making the equivalent of minimum wage when you divide the amount of money made for the day by the number of hours worked. This is partially due, in this particular case, to the fact that this field has already been picked over once, and the second crop of berries is much smaller. That is, it takes many more berries to make a pound. Add to this the graft that can sometimes occur: farmworkers in Oregon claim that field managers have covered scales so that farmworkers could not see how much they brought in, and see if they are being paid correctly. I suspect that even the most ardent capitalist would declare such a practice unfair.

To Jibba Jabba 21.Jun.2001 09:33

Jon Carr

Jibba Jabba,

Who's the reactionary one here? Since when is it wrong to ask questions and challenge a viewpoint? Why are you accusing me of being a racist (just for the record, I am a bilingual African-American, returned Peace Corps Bolivia Volunteer, former welfare kid, my father is a resident alien and I worked for several years as a farmlaborer—so I understand, on a very real level, the issues at hand). I simply wanted raise the questions that are asked of me every day—questions that I wanted help in answering. I suppose if you work in a place where everybody thinks like you do, then perhaps you are at liberty to lambaste those who think differently. But I cannot do that. If I really want to make any sort of change, then I have to answer these questions convincingly and respectfully—and I suspect that the same holds true for most folks out there.

These are not reactionary droolings, these are the questions being asked by the opposition. You must take them seriously.

I also wanted to note, Jibba Jabba, that I am not hiding behind a hood of anonymity. I attach my name to my words, despite the fact that they may alienate me from my peers (and yes, I do consider you my peer) or perhaps put me in ill favor with my very conservative employers... . Dogma and fear are everywhere, on both sides—openness and patience are a little harder to find.

And if you want to read some interesting studies regarding the issues (farm worker wages and the sort) I recommend the following sites:

 http://www.dol.gov/dol/asp/public/programs/agworker/report_8.pdf
 http://oda.state.or.us/information/AQ/AQSummer99/04.html
 http://www.ers.usda.gov/briefing/FarmLabor
 http://stats.bls.gov/

And if you do not agree with any of these publications, please write to the authors or agencies responsible—I unfortunately used up all my free challenges—they don't like to see dissention in the ranks.

Anyway,

Look before you leap my friend Jibba Jabba and keep an open mind, even for those who may think differently.

I regards to open mindedness and the need for respectful communication, I could go on. And we can if you like  carrjonathan@hotmail.com.

J.C

Answers to questions 21.Jun.2001 13:15

Jason Morgan bayak@ureach.com

These questions can't be answered. The person posing these questions have a fundemental difference of opinion. They comodify everything. They value capital over human life.


>So, I am just curious and anybody is free to respond to >this and prove me wrong—I would very much like to be >proven wrong.

How do the supporters of farmworker justice respond to the claim that farmworkers do in fact make a fair wage, especially when compared to their skill level and the wages made by workers in other fields such as childcare, manufacturing, and service jobs.

We consider a fair wage to be someting that is capable of sustaining the individual.

To them a fair wage is determined by supply and demand.
How much does that position produce?

Like I said, this is no answer for someone that thinks this way. They can't concieve a world not capital driven.

>Also, how much of this march and the protest is actually >supported by the farmworker community—of the marchers, how >many of them are actual farmworkers and how many of them >belong to churches or non-profits or are Latino/Latina >college students. How much support do you have from the >community you are trying to help?

PCUN has 4000+ member farmworkers. I suppose that is enough of an answer there.....


>Or how about this statement: Most farmworkers are happy to >get what they have. If it was so bad, why do they risk >their lives to come here?

Going to have to agree with Jibby Jabby or whatever. They risked there lives becasue meer exploitation is better than explotation AND starvation. You can blame NAFTA for 8 million families out of work in Mexico. This is where Mr Jabbster is wrong. Mr Buchanan may very well agree with you on this. Unfortunatly, he is doing it becasue he is a protectionist.


>They don't speak English, they have a low level of formal >education, they are unskilled—why shouldn't they make >minimum wage or perhaps a little better (the average >farmworker wage in Oregon is somewhere around $8.50 an >hour—most would consider this pretty good for a no-skill >job).

Comodification of humananity. Can't really be addressed. There is a more fundemental problem here.

>Is it fair to target only the agricultural industry? Why >not a march against fast food chains (we all know how evil >they are) or manufacturing?

The Ag industry isn't the only target. However, it serves little purpose when your trying to organize a union to focus most of your energy where there are no workers.


>Why can't we view these ag-jobs as good opportunities for >struggling people who may not be able to find employment >anyplace else?

This can't be answered. This requires you to believe that some people and some jobs are less valuable than others. They say capital built America, we say workers built America.

I'll stop there.

I welcome all other viewpoints.

J.C.