Monday, December 29, 2014

Let's Organize a Pity Party

Get this: agribusiness interests in California are scared. Scared that they won't be able to hire enough workers for their fields. And it's all because President Obama is going to stop the INS from chasing after five million undocumented workers.

According to this AP story,

Thousands of the state's farmworkers, who make up a significant portion of those who will benefit, may choose to leave the uncertainty of their seasonal jobs for steady, year-around work building homes, cooking in restaurants and cleaning hotel rooms....

Manuel Cunha, president of the Fresno-based Nisei Farmers League, estimates that 85 percent of California's agricultural workers are using false documents to obtain work....

Many farmworkers are paid above minimum wage, earning more hourly than they will in other industries, but he said that workers that leave will gain year-around jobs and regular paychecks, rather than seasonal employment.
It's hard to feel sorry for an industry that gets by because it offers unattractive hours and bad conditions (if not the worst of wages, who knows) to people who don't have any other choices.
While farmers may face a setback, Obama's order is good for workers, who support families and fear that any day they may be pulled over driving to work and deported, said Armando Elenes, national vice president of the United Farm Workers.

With proper documentation, workers will feel empowered and be more valuable, Elenes said. Confronted with abuse at work — such as being paid less than minimum wage or denied overtime — workers will be able to challenge their employer or leave, he said.
Making workers (and residents) live in the shadows is bad for a civil society, let alone a democracy. Cutting into the profits of agribusiness is a small price to pay.

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