Friday, October 1, 2010
Despite the high unemployment, Americans in San Diego aren't taking farm jobs. The United Farm Workers' Take Our Jobs Campaign has been trying to change that.
SAN DIEGO Despite the high unemployment, Americans in San Diego aren't taking farm jobs. The United Farm Workers' Take Our Jobs Campaign has been trying to change that.
A group of immigrant farm workers came up with the idea a few months ago.
Eager to influence the outcome of the current AgJOBS bill in Congress, the United Farm Workers wanted to see whether Americans would apply to jobs in agricultural production.
UFW President, Arturo Rodriguez, was surprised to find that no one from San Diego county took the pledge.
"The truth is that if farm workers did not go and pick the strawberries there in San Diego county, or did not harvest the fruits and vegetables that are grown there, we wouldn't have that done any longer," said Rodriguez. "It just wouldn't happen in this country -- everything would be moving down to Mexico."
Last week, the United Farm Workers enlisted comedian Stephen Colbert to highlight the fact that Americans aren't interested in farm jobs.
At a congressional hearing, Colbert joked about working 12-hour shifts, at $10 an hour, under the hot sun. But Rodriguez says there is nothing funny about this type of labor.
"Not only would we not have our fruits and vegetables, but we would lose all these other jobs that are associated with agriculture -- millions of jobs -- in the packing, in the processing, in the trucking," Rodriguez adds. "So that they really do bring about tremendous value to our economy."
As part of the Take Our Jobs campaign, California farms posted ads for 1,100 farm worker positions open Americans. But only 36 of those jobs have been filled.
There are more farm workers in California than anywhere else in the country -- 95 percent of them are immigrants.