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Laboring for Justice

[caption id="attachment_1000" align="alignright" width="200"]Blog by Sr. Judy Morris, OP Blog by Sr. Judy Morris, OP[/caption] Earlier in July I had the opportunity to travel to California and enjoy the diverse beauty of that state.  As we traveled to Yosemite National Park, the tour guide announced, "You are viewing the salad bar of the United States."   For endless miles I viewed lettuce, tomatoes, strawberries and countless vegetables and fruits I have too often enjoyed without reflecting on the labor that brought these wonderful foods to me.  In those fields were many farm workers struggling to survive. As we approach Labor Day, I am especially mindful of the many thousands of farm workers who work endless hours for poor wages, enduring extremes in weather to bring me food.  Unfortunately the media does not cover the plight of farm workers across the country,  and politicians never discuss the poor in their midst. Recently farm workers and supporters gathered in Long Island, New York for a march to Albany to call for passage of the Farmworker Fair Labor Practices Act.  The issues to which they drew attention are many - farm workers often work seven days a week, with no day off; no overtime pay; no right to collective bargaining; a lack of bathrooms and clean water in the fields and overcrowded housing.  This remains a familiar scene for 60,000 farmworkers around the country. Many undocumented workers today were forced to leave their countries, just as agricultural workers have been forced to do throughout history.  Most often, the reason for migration is directly related to U.S. policies.  When NAFTA was signed in 1994, government-subsidized corn produced in the U.S. flooded the market in Mexico.  As a result, many farmers migrated to the U.S., not by choice, but by necessity. When focusing on trade policies in the United States, immigration and unemployment, we need to follow the dots.  They are all connected and, without public demand and political will, this tragic exploitation will remain the same.

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