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Syndic Literary Journal

Photo Essay: California Farmworker – Stoop Labor


Photo by Rick Tejada-Flores (c.1972)
Our nation’s largest industry – agribusiness – has been built through the exploitation of domestic and foreign workers . . . and their families. This exploitation has been facilitated by Congress. When industrial workers were granted labor rights in 1935, farmworkers were excluded.
For 83 years, we have had a labor apartheid system in the U.S. – industrial workers have rights, farmworkers (and domestic workers) have no rights. Workers without rights are exploited with impunity and are used to subsidize the industry that “employs” them – in this case, agribusiness, our largest industry. Why is this so? – racial discrimination.
Historically, the vast majority of farmworkers were/are people of color and our nation’s history of racial segregation – one small step removed from slavery – prevented our Congress from approving legislation that would have granted them labor rights. Social injustice is an integral part of our nation’s labor law system. Shameful and unjust in 1935 – even more
shameful today!


Compiled/Published by LeRoy Chatfield
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