fieldworkers

Job opportunities for agricultural workers occupations should be abundant because large numbers of workers leave these jobs due to their low wages and physical demands.

-Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition

Tired of being vilified as stealing jobs from unemployed American citizens, and hoping to spark realistic discussion of immigration reform, United Farm Workers is teaming up with Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert for an awesome campaign called Take Our Jobs, the Associated Press reports.

Stephen ColbertMartin CrookThe union has created a website where you can sign yourself up for fieldwork. Experienced field hands will train legal residents and hook them up with the many seasonal harvest openings in California, Florida, and elsewhere.

Because really, forget Census taking — what American doesn’t want a back-breaking, hot, dangerous (workers get enslaved, poisoned by pesticides, and die from heat stroke) job with no health benefits, paid vacation, or even a living wage? Federal overtime provisions don’t apply to farmworkers, nor do minimum-wage laws, the AP reminds would-be applicants.

Such working conditions, along with those in other immigrant-heavy, underpaid food sectors such as slaughterhouses, are the basis for our cheap-food system. Without them, the 99-cent hamburger would not exist.

“We are a nation in denial about our food supply,” says the UAW campaign. “Agriculture in the United States is dependent on an immigrant workforce. Three-quarters of all crop workers working in American agriculture were born outside the United States. According to government statistics, since the late 1990s, at least 50% of the crop workers have not been authorized to work legally in the United States.”

Take Our Jobs will be featured on the Colbert Report on July 8. We’re glad Colbert will be doing his part to help the unemployed of America find some honest work — and get a discussion about immigration reform going. Any attempts to reform our food system have to include ending the exploitation of undocumented, unprotected workers.