Harvesting crops is hard back-breaking work. Every time I pass by a field of workers, I'm very grateful to them. How can anyone not want to give them a living wage?
It wasn't until 1978 that farmworkers on large farms were finally included under the Fair Labor Standards Act, which required their employers to pay them minimum wage. Still, in some states today, farmers can choose to give their workers a piece-rate wage rather than a minimum hourly rate. It's not a high piece rate either. For instance, if a worker receives 50 cents for every bucket of tomatoes she picks, she would need to pick about 2.5 tons of tomatoes to earn an equivalent minimum hourly wage for a 10-hour day. I think all states ought to mandate hourly wages for farmworkers.
I've got a Mama story for you. She always laughed when she told me about her first year working in the fields of America. It was either the first or second year that she was living here, so that was 1950 or 1951. She decided to pick tomatoes to help bring in money for the family. She was paid something like 25 cents a box. When she picked a bucket of tomatoes, she carried it to the end of the row and put it in the box.
"That was so hard,' the Mama said. "I didn't know what I was doing. It took hours to fill a box."
By the time she had two boxes, the farmer had come around. "He was a nice man," the Mama said. "He felt sorry for me. He started picking tomatoes and putting them in my boxes."
He was the same man that later taught the Mama how to drive an old Model T. But, that's another story.
I'm hooking up with Jeanette's Seasons, a weekly meme that closes tomorrow. Click here to check out her blog and other Seasons' participants.
Tomorrow is now today. That means it's time for ABC Wednesday, which is a meme in which I like to participate. It's the letter N this week. I figure with a little addition to this post's title and the fact that the Mama's boss was a nice guy, this post fills the bill. Click here to check out other ABCW participants.