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Photo Essay: California Farmworker – Work Dress


Photo by Jon Lewis (c.1966)

Farmworker – man or woman? – dressed for the September table grape harvest in Delano CA.

The field harvest temperatures will range between 75 to 105 degrees, but the workers must dress to protect themselves from any wasps and spiders that reside within the 7 foot high vines, from residues of pesticides and sulfur left on the leaves, and the superfine dust that kicks up in the vineyards. Hard work and hot work, all paid by piece rate – the faster you work, the more you earn, which means that every work break you take is at your own expense.

Farmworkers have never complained about hard work, but they do lament their exclusion from the protections of national labor legislation in 1935 which denied them labor rights granted to all other workers in the nation. “That’s unfair! It’s not right!,  they say, but what voice do they have? None! They were born into farmworker poverty and there is little hope for change. 

Those of us who were born into more fortunate circumstances should demand they be given their labor rights!

Compiled/Published by LeRoy Chatfield
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