Migrant Farm Workers

South Florida tends to be a hotspot for immigrants as it is on a coast and close to the Central and South American countries.

Many people consider migrant workers on farms to be the victims of modern day slavery, working in difficult conditions for substandard pay. According to Florida Legal Services, three-quarters of farm workers in Florida are immigrants. The average age of a farm worker is 35. About a quarter of the farm workers are women. Many of these women deal with sexual harassment on a daily basis. Farm workers also lack pension plans, paid vacations, and sick leave. Some farms do not even provide toilets for their workers if there are less than six (Florida legal online).

Honestly, not many people want to be a  worker on a farm.

 As horrible as many of these conditions are, some are doing an excellent job working to improve the conditions for Florida migrant workers. For example, a writer for the New York Times pointed out the improvements done by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers who work to improve conditions by investigating slavery and negotiating with fast food restaurants to get more money for the workers (Schlosser online).

The Immokalee workers make a definite impact in South Florida for immigrant workers who are mistreated. “The Anti-Slavery Campaign has resulted in freedom for more than a thousand tomato and orange pickers held in debt bondage.” (Coalition of Immokalee Workers online).

Not all immigrant workers are mistreated in Florida. For example, C&B farms, and organic farm in Clewiston, FL, is an example of a farm that has decently paid farm workers with adequate housing. Chuck Obern, the owner of C&B farms, may not allow his workers the weekend off, but they pay a low price for their housing ($54 a month i believe), and on average they work about 5-7 hours a day.
Obern believes he’s giving his workers the best opportunities that he can. He doesn’t give them the weekend off because in his experience, many of his workers drink their hard earned money away on the weekends. He also has a no drinking policy in his housing.
 However, when I visited his farm and talked to some of the workers I found out that they make on average $500 a week. That is a decent $26,000 salary. When Chuck Obern is offering an opportunity like that, how can Florida’s unemployment rate be 10.7%? How can 987,012 in the state of Florida not have a job?
I admit that I myself would not take that job unless it was my very last resort, but for many people in South Florida it is coming to that time. Chuck Obern says he struggles to find workers every year. Not many people ask for a job at C& B Farms. His housing is less than half full.
I know that times are hard, and there are many people in our society that cannot work jobs like that. However, almost 100, 000 people do not have jobs here. Do so many people think working a job like that is worse than collecting unemployment? Maybe.
Just something to think about.

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