For anyone concerned that undocumented immigrants are taking jobs from American citizens, the United Farm Workers has a response: Come take them back.
The UFW has started a Web site called takeourjobs.org. A statement posted on the site's homepage clarifies the message:
"There are two issues facing our nation--high unemployment and undocumented people in the workforce--that many Americans believe are related. Missing from the debate on both issues is an honest recognition that the food we all eat - at home, in restaurants and workplace cafeterias (including those in the Capitol) - comes to us from the labor of undocumented farm workers.
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.
We are a nation in denial about our food supply. As a result the UFW has initiated the "Take Our Jobs" campaign.
Farm workers are ready to welcome citizens and legal residents who wish to replace them in the field. We will use our knowledge and staff to help connect the unemployed with farm employers. Just fill out the form to the right and continue on to the request for job application."
Founded by Cesar Chavez in 1962 as the National Farm Workers Association, the organization has worked to improve working conditions and raise wages for those laboring in the fields. And it's succeeded. Some of the organization's major victories are listed on the UFW Web site and include:
- The first genuine collective bargaining agreement between farm workers and growers in the history of the continental United States, beginning with the union contract signed with Schenley vineyards in 1966.
- The first union contracts requiring rest periods, toilets in the fields, clean drinking water, hand washing facilities, protective clothing against pesticide exposure, banning pesticide spraying while workers are in the fields, outlawing DDT and other dangerous pesticides, lengthening pesticide re-entry periods beyond state and federal standards, and requiring the testing of farm workers on a regular basis to monitor for pesticide exposure.
- The first union contracts eliminating farm labor contractors and guaranteeing farm workers seniority rights and job security.
- Establishing the first comprehensive union health benefits for farm workers and their families through the UFW's Robert F. Kennedy Medical Plan.
In an interview on "The Colbert Report" (see below), the current UFW president, Arturo Rodriguez, said the organization has received only three requests from American citizens expressing an interest in working in the fields. Any other takers?
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