The United Farm Workers union is calling the bluff of all those immigrant-hating Tea Partyers, including such Republican officials as Arizona Governor Janice Brewer, and Corey Stewart of the Prince William County, Virginia, Board of Supervisors, who claim illegal (that is, undocumented) immigrants are “stealing jobs” from American citizens. As reported by CNN the union has launched a campaign called “Take Our Jobs,” posting an online application for Americans who want to work on a farm at www.takeourjobs.org. The US Department of Agriculture says there are nearly 1 million farm workers in the United States, and the Migrant Farm Worker Justice Project says 85 percent of these are immigrants, with up to 70 percent undocumented. The union is offering their jobs to Americans.
Union President, Arturo Rodriguez, says that at least half a million applicants are needed to replace the immigrant workforce, but so far, since 24 June 2010, only 4,000 have answered the online application, despite the 9.5 percent rate of unemployment during this recession, and “only a few dozen have actually followed through with the process.” Not surprising, remarks Rob Williams of the MFWJP, “If someone said to me, ‘Here’s a hazardous job and there’s no worker’s compensation,’ I’d say, ‘No thanks.'”
It is true: so far, most applicants lose interest when they come up against the reality of “back-breaking jobs in triple digit temperatures that pay minimum wages”—- and sometimes even less, since some smaller farms are not even required to pay minimum wage, and in 15 states farms do not have to provide workers’ compensation.
Besides proving that Americans simply will not take these jobs, the objective of the campaign, says Rodriguez, is to prove the need for immigration reform, as embodied in the Ag-Jobs bill presently locked up in Congress. The bill would “grant temporary legal status to immigrants, which would become permanent if they continue to work on farms for a specific period of time.”
As William points out, if the immigrant bashers got their wish and all the undocumented workers went home,
“we would have a crisis. We wouldn’t have anyone to pick the crops, milk the cows, or take care of the Christmas trees… It may be the least desirable job, but it’s the most important job for all of us, because we all eat.”
Not to mention all the dirty houses that would not be cleaned, or the whiney children who would have no one to care for them. So, Mr. Stewart, Gov. Brewer, and all the other sneering Tea Partyers: get off your hindquarters, get out there and fill out your application at www.takeourjobs.org. Shut up or put up, boys and girls.