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Syndic Literary Journal

Photo Essay: California Farmworker – Field Factory

Photo by Hub Segur (c.1972)
Farmworkers in the Imperial Valley harvesting, sorting and packing lettuce – a moving assembly line.
Lettuce is the 6th largest commodity crop in California – $2.2 billion dollars. These workers were excluded in 1935 from all protections of national labor legislation that granted labor rights to industrial workers. How is it possible these workers could be denied such basic human rights?
In 1935 racial segregation governed the South, and since most farmworkers were African American, Mexican American and Filipino, the Southern Segregationist Senators refused to vote for legislation granting labor rights to industrial workers unless farmworkers and domestic workers were excluded. 83 years later – and counting – this segregationist labor apartheid policy still exists in agribusiness – our nation’s largest industry.
Social justice? Labor rights? Human rights? If these words have any meaning, it does not apply to farmworkers. Words like rented slaves, servitude, and indentured servants are more applicable.


Compiled/Published by LeRoy Chatfield
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