Student Action with Farmworkers has designated March 24-31 as the 17th annual National Farmworker Awareness Week. They advocate for safer working conditions, higher wages, and better treatment for those who work on the front lines of agriculture:
Farmworkers feed the world- 85% of our fruits and vegetables are handpicked. There are an estimated 2-3 million men, women, and children work in the fields in the United States. Farms are in every state, including yours, yet farmworkers remain largely invisible and continue to live and work in horrific conditions.
Farm work is the third most dangerous job in the United States. The people who plant and harvest our fruits and vegetables suffer from the highest rate of toxic chemical injuries of any other workers in the nation and have higher incidences of heat stress, dermatitis, urinary tract infections, parasitic infections, and tuberculosis than other wage-earners.
Farmworkers are treated differently under the law. Overtime, unemployment insurance, and even protection when joining a union are not guaranteed under federal law. Farmworkers were excluded from almost all major federal laws passed in the 1930s. The Fair Labor Standards Act was amended in 1978 to mandate minimum wage for farmworkers on large farms only and it still has not made provisions for overtime.
Read more about National Farmworker Awareness Week here.
This year, in addition to sharing the stories of farmworkers throughout the southeast, SAF is calling on consumers to boycott fast-food chain Wendy’s for its decision to purchase tomatoes from Mexico, rather than pay an additional penny per pound surcharge that would have benefited tomato-pickers in Florida. You can read more about that effort here.