MAKING THE FARM WORKER'S LIFE EVEN HARDER
October 10, 1998
The New York Times
By MANUEL GARCA Y GRIEGO and ANDRS E. JIMNEZ
IRVINE, Calif. -- The U.S. House and Senate are, according to this story,
working out a plan that, if adopted, could make conditions for American
farm workers worse than they have been since 1965.
Supporters of the legislation, which was passed in different forms by the
House of Representatives and the Senate, claim it will solve labor
shortages in agriculture and food processing. The story says that the
measure would enable large growers to circumvent existing restrictions so
recruit foreign temporary workers.
This in turn would allow them to impose lower wages and get away with
substandard conditions. A House-Senate conference committee is still
working out the details of the legislation, but the main components are
not in dispute.
Growers already can recruit the foreign temporary workers they need under
the current law: about 23,000 such workers were hired last year. Under the
new proposal, growers could get away with doing very little to recruit
workers locally, much less than what is required under present laws.
They would also be permitted to give workers housing vouchers, which are
often useless because there isn't enough low-income housing in rural
communities, instead of providing housing as the current law mandates.
Most objectionable, the story says, growers would be permitted to pay
temporary foreign workers lower wages, in some cases, less than minimum
wage. And they would not have to meet the current requirement that workers
be employed for at least three-quarters of the time specified on the
craig k harris
department of sociology
michigan state university
429b berkey hall
east lansing michigan 48824-1111
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