Relinda Walker still can't believe what she heard. Incredulity seeps into in her slow Southern drawl as she repeats the price – only 60 cents for a pound of organic Vidalia onions. Incredible.
Walker, an organic farmer in south Georgia has seen great change in her industry, but this price, about 40 cents cheaper than she could ever conceivably charge, really gives her pause. She wants to pay fair wages to her American workers, and she's unwilling to take on the compromise made by some other Georgia farmers, using inmates to process her crop.
This time of year, Vidalias are on the minds and in the mouths of many food fanatics in and around the Southeast. These golden orbs inspire the kind of passion normally reserved for fine wines and cheese. Devotees feature the sweet beauties in recipes handed down from grandmothers, and pricey restaurants put them front and center on their menus during the scant months they are in season. Like Champagne is to France, Vidalias are to parts of south Georgia.
The affection for this crop isn't lost on Walker. "It's a labor of love," she sighs. The onions take up a lot of land and labor, and are prone to disease. Since she grows organically, there's also the matter of hand weeding, rather than relying on chemicals.
In a good year, she says, the crop makes her some money. But despite the low margin for profit and the backbreaking labor every September, Walker plants the onion seeds. She just plain likes doing it, she says. "In the winter when there's not a lot going on, you've still got those green shoots."
This year, those green shoots produced a good crop but she still can't get over those low prices she's hearing about. Like many farmers, Walker has a lot on her mind in addition to weather, weeds and water. While it’s great to have beautiful onions lined up row after row, they’re useless if you can’t get them out of the ground. Unlike other farmers, Walker says she never finds herself short of labor. The hard part is finding the money to pay fair wages for the hands that pick her crop.
For the past few months, the issue of farm labor has been front and center in Georgia. That's because last year, the state passed HB 87 - a tough immigration law modeled after Arizona's HB 1070. As a result, many farmers complained they had issues finding the farm labor they needed after HB 87 passed. It seemed that migrant workers didn’t even bother looking for jobs in the Peach State, and farmers were already having a difficult time filling positions with laborers on guest worker visas because of their cost and paperwork.
The farmers commissioned a study from the University of Georgia’s Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development to determine the extent of damage the shortage had done. The study examined seven staple Georgia crops, Vidalia onions included. The findings were shocking: 18 Vidalia-producing farms lost an estimated $16,312,345 and 835 jobs. In total, the seven crops studied lost almost $75 million and more than 5,200 jobs because of the labor shortage.
The state stepped in, with the suggestion of using probationers to do the work. The plan has helped. Farmers were able to save some of their crops, and a section of society that often struggles to find work was given the opportunity to play a small role in solving a statewide problem.
This season, one onion farmer has turned to the state again - only this time, current prisoners are being allowed to help with the harvest. The program is small: just one farm using nine transitional center prisoners to help harvest and pack onions. The farmer initially granted media access to his farm but later declined CNN's request.
Stephen Everett, one of the men participating in the program did speak with CNN by phone. Everett, who is serving a multiple year sentence for burglary, volunteered to work on the farm and said he enjoyed "being in a work environment with other people."
The 42-year-old Georgia native is no stranger to farm labor; his family runs a cattle farm and he plans on working there should he be granted parole later this year. Everett and eight other inmates will have a few more weeks working with the onions, pulling down a minimum wage paycheck. The farmers get a subsidy from the government to cover part of the cost. They harvest, sort and ship the onions. Once the harvest is done, prison officials say they have no plans to work out similar arrangements with other farms or crops. So in Georgia, it's a small and temporary patch for what many farmers say is a larger problem with labor supply.
Given the recent Supreme Court ruling over Arizona’s controversial SB 1070, which Georgia’s law was modeled after; it’s clear that the issue will remain a prominent one. Relinda Walker is just happy there’s a cost-effective, albeit temporary solution. She regularly gets calls from local folks, American citizens, she says, looking for farm work. The problem is, she says, they’re too expensive to pay. She could hire laborers on a guest worker visa, but there are additional costs like transportation and housing that make that option an expensive one.
Then there’s the issue of verification. As of July 1, employers in Georgia with between 100 and 500 employees are required to use the E-Verify system for new hires. This system compares an employee’s information to Social Security and Immigration records and verifies citizenship. Though E-Verify is voluntary is some states, it is required for most employers in Georgia
While the politics of the matters are worked out hundreds of miles away in Washington, all Walker can do is look forward to next Vidalia onion season and hope she can afford the hands that harvest her labor of love.
Previously - Vidalia onions – accept no impostors and Peanut butter and Vidalia onions and other strange sandwich delights
Also - Chefs with Issues: Immigrants in the kitchen and Comments: the cost of immigrant kitchen labor and How the modern day tomato came to be
The powerful in this country are able maintain their power structure with a perpetually misinformed, and uneducated, citizenry. Teabillies... you're doin' us proud.
I think people would be happy to pay a dollar a pound for onions if it meant Americans were being employed instead of illegal Mexicans, and being paid a decent wage to harvest them. That's how it always worked before this massive influx of illegals, and our country became strong because of it.
But Bob, America NO LONGER cares about America. Americans now worship the almight dollar, and money has no friends or loyalties. If people can pay 40 cents cheaper, even if it benefits Americans, most people will save the money instead of taking pride in supporting Americans.
I grew up in the mid-West. For as long as I can remember we had migrant workers come in and help the local farmers with harvesting the crops. From what I remember most of the workers were Mexican.
This will be a perfect excuse to keep the drug war going. To supply farms with slave labor!
Farm wages should rise. As the situation stands now, taxpayers are having to subsidize growers by picking up the tab for the public services used by illegal workers and their children, e.g., health care, schooling, welfare. Our "cheap food" isn't as cheap as we think. Higher wages would help attract American workers (especially kids who need to learn a work ethic), and in moderation wage increases would not drive up food prices a great deal. Labor costs are not a great percentage of retail food prices. Furthermore, we should explore ways to mechanize food production. Reliance on cheap illegal workers holds back the development of harvesting technology and other innovations.
Some of the scholl kids work during the summer. Back breaking work. Learning to appreciate an education.
I have never hired an illegal. I kow people that have. Actually you can get certain forms that let you bring people in to the country to work for the season. Give them free housing and very minimal pay. Our food is probably too cheap compared to what we spend on other things that we need. Heck look at what people are willing to pay for their phones, internet, TV and you need none of the to survive.
if labor intensive crop farmers raise wages and have to charge more money for their products consumers will simply buy a cheaper alternative farmed in another country. that is the way it works. consumers have alternatives, that is why high wages for farmers in labor intensive crops means that crop would just dissapear.
I've heard prison inmates like to urinate, and ejaculate, in things when they're bored, or not happy about what they have to do.
Or, I guess what they plan to do is arrest all the illegal immigrants, then force them to work for free.
Either way, it seems like they're still taking jobs away from out-of-work Americans.
So make certain you thoroughly rinse and clean your vidalia onions before you eat them.
No one appreciates the labor involved in growing things. Add on to that the weather. It's a wonder people farm anymore. I am 53 and just about ready to throw in the towel, but this is what I do!
It's a labor of love , thank you.
How about they hire the millions of Obamaites that can seem to find work since he became president so we can stop paying lazy bums to stay home and do nothing, while this country goes into massive debt. If they won't take the jobs then cut them off from all government aid.
As if the spending on the wars does not dwarf some welfare cheat.
I would work in the fields for $25 per hour!
And what did your first job pay?
How about you learn which states have the highest percentages on food stamps and welfare? Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, New Mexico are all at or near the top.
Since Obama took office my salary has gone from 60K to 120K. Granted, I am very good at what I do, but I was also very good when Bush was in office and I made half as much. I have great insurance and benefits now ,and it is all because my company got stimulus money to hire locally rather than outsource. I really can't complain and I will vote for the guy that kept us from slipping into an an economic depression. I will vote for the guy who got us out of Iraq and the guy who was at the helm when we found Bin Laden. So before you generalize about Obama supporters, you should realize that a lot of people are actually doing A LOT better since he took office.
Rather than double your wage, why did your company not hire another human being with a family that might need a decent job?
Pay the prisoners a small amount, that they can use to buy things or save up for when they get out.
This was done in the past – prison guards on horseback, with shotguns. Nothing cruel or unusual about it.
Since when does "paying your debt to society" mean sitting unproductively in a cell? I see no reason they should not be put to work doing something productive for the society they violated. Free labor (in the production stream) does mean lower produce prices. Perhaps minimal wages used to pay resttution to their victims?
I know this will paint a giant target on my back but when I was a kid in Jr – High and High School, I would crop tobacco, pick beans, bale hay anything else that would put money in my pocket. Word would get around as to which farmers needed help and we would line up! I made $9 a day back in the early 70's and that was big money to a 13 year old.My mom and dad both worked in the medical field so I didn't have to work but I chose to (with a little prodding from my dad). I did it to have a job, buy albums (and 8 track tapes) and saved up to buy my first drum set and other things my parents could have bought me. Instead, they instilled in me the desire to EARN the money for things I wanted rather than just give it to me. Also, it taught me that I would rather work with my mind rather than my back! What is wrong with kids having a summer job? How about those that cannot find employment? I know minimum wage will not support a family but it could certainly supplement the EBT cards and other entitlements that are provided.
We ran out of poor white people in America?
Not at all , just those who can make more from unemployment than actually working for a living.
There are so many issues at play here that it borders on the absurd.
Firstly, I think the vast majority of people have forgotten the definition of minimum wage. The idea of instituting a national or state minimum is to set a bar for the cost of labour. The fact that some are able to avoid that cost by using migrant or forced labor is damaging to the labor market.
Second, the fact that private prison firms can do this without using the funds to offset the incarceration cost to the taxpayer falls somewhere between poor policy and outright fraud. I know that it tends to come in varying levels so I don't want to stress that too strongly but its a point to consider.
Third, slave labor....... back to the dark ages we go. Prison labor should only be an option in emergency circumstances and the prison should not be allowed to profit from it, all monies should go directly to gov't coffers and prisoners should be "paid" in prison privileges for violent offenders and reduced terms (remember that reduces cost) for non-violent offenders. All else aside, it drives down the value of labor for the average American worker, is that a price worth paying?
Fourth, extremely low cost agricultural commodities destroy local entrenched farming operations and further facilitate the consolidation of the farming industry playing right into the hands of big agriculture. That in and of itself isn't a bad thing but the large corporation don't have a great track record when it comes to quality (not safety, the taste of the produce). Exhibit A: Taste a tomato grown in the US by a major producer and then try a vine ripened organic tomato, I think there was actually an article on CNN recently about that very topic.
very well said – i wanted to make the same points, but you did it so eloquently!
Very well stated indeed!
slavery. they already have a prison sentence. some people have a master slave mentality. they will try to make money off of vulnerable populations.
abusing and exploiting the mentally ill. if they want to pay them fair, fine.
Remember Nat Turner!
But I don't understand, the Republican right told me that getting rid of illegals would create jobs for Americans. Why are we using free convict labor? Where are the jobs?
They will not be free. The farmers will pay a fee to the state. Plus taxpayers, ie Republicans, are already paying for their incaceraton and should expect some return int he form of work.
Why are we willing to subsidize the oil industry making billions of dollars of profit per month and not demand that fairly people who work harder than most of us could bare. Why not make the national minimum wage $15.00 per hour and demand that agricultural workers get at least minimum wage? Why not build a national rail system where labor can move to work areas at a cost that is affordable? Why not implement a department of employment instead of unemployment? How about a national job clearing house instead of agencies that only place people in jobs if they already have jobs? How about national health insurance so people are not tied to a job for healthcare?
Yes, sometimes crops come in poorly. Weather, animals, various reasons. There are times when I can not afford health care premiums. Being a small farmer is difficult, even in the best of times.
And where are all the people who were complaining that the immigrants are taikng away their jobs?
What illegal aliens were gotten rid of? As far as I can tell they are all still here doing the jobs Obama followers are too lazy to do, but why would any Obama voter work when they can stay home and get paid handsomely for it. This has to be the only country in the world where our "poor" people are morbidly obese, have iphones, and turn down jobs that are "beneath" them.
And where are all the people who were complaining that the immigrants are taking away their jobs? I would think they would be rushing in to fill all those vacancies.
Where are all the people screaming that they are taking American jobs?
They ARE Americans MR. Brilliant!
SO___ why don't the American young step up and do these jobs??Oh they want to make $40 an hour at a desk job!
Because making enough to have a place to live and food to eat is kind of an important piece of the puzzle.
Because you can't live on minimum wage, thats why no one wants to do these jobs. In my state minimum wage is $7.15. Thats the equivalent of making $18,000 a year before you pay a single dollar in taxes or SS. The average annual cost of raising a child in America is $12,000 a year.
The onion on the right side of the pic is a 36C!!
You sound like a refugee FOX NEWS blogger.
Good catch! I guess it does bring a tear to my eye.
Isn't forcing prisoners into these jobs ...slavery ?
It is like, have a joint in your hand and you are committed into 10-20 years of slavery!
Yes that is the goal. We already have the largest incarceration rates in the world. Throw us all in jail so we can work for $1.00 an hour picking vegetables to be shipped out to China.
Thanks to all the privatized prisons were the bottom line ($$$) is enhanced with more prisoners.
Isn't requiring people to use money to buy what they need to survive slavery when the only way to make that money is by working ... ?
Now your being silly, Given a choice to work or sit in a cell most will work to get out of their cell, get away from the prison for awhile, and put some cash on the books for the commissary. It's obvious you've never been in prison which could be a good thing not knowing you and all.
No. They have the option. Be productive and earn some money, or hang out in a cell and hope your behind is safe. Some prisoners do try and be productive.
I am a farmer. Sometimes I only make $1/ hr. Other times much much better. i do not see why we try to make this kind of work out as something that no one will do. Weather is both good and bad [ the last few weeks were very bad ] . Fair wages for everyone!
In Georgia (or anywhere else), for a healthy person to accept welfare, they should have work 40 hours a week in the fields (or somewhere else) to get their welfare check. If not, remove their children and let them fend for themselves (with no government aid or money of any type.) Suddenly, they might find their hidden work ethic.
and tell me mr. cat food what is it that you do for a living ? do you pick crops or did you ever collect any type of welfare
Welfare check = pick onions, or strawberries, or whatever the harvest may be, i.e. earn the money
couldnt agree more. If you want my tax money to pay for your ability to live, provide some service for my community. There could be day cares, street cleaners, aides to the elderly......so much stuff that we say we have no money for, could be provided through the labor of those who use welfare to survive.......not sure how this isnt happening now......I'm pretty sure thats what we had t the end of the great depression with the civilian corps.....
You would be satisfied with having a welfare recipient take care of your children, your elderly parent? Yikes.
That would be a jobs bill. Like the CCC or WPA of years gone by. Republicans have blocked every Jobs bill that has come up. Thats why we don,t have one.
Instead of the prison volunteer program, why not have a school volunteer program? Give vocational schools and/or apprenticeships credibility by having kids learn a trade for the experience while they're still in high school. Not every kid needs to go to college...as long as they understand that there are other ways to learn a skill.
The solution is simple: Legalize the 'illegals'. Support workers when any violations of labor laws are reported. This is the definition of a 'level playing field', the formerly 'illegal' immigrants no longer can be exploited, but must be treated the same as others. The only basis for discrimination then would be actual productivity. The better worker can negotiate for a better rate. Free men and women voluntarily performing work for an agreed legal wage, with all pertinent benefits associated, paying appropriate payroll taxes, will be far more efficient than the labor of criminals almost universally unfamiliar with farm work.... The result is millions of dollars of production, accruing to all parties in the process, from farm owners and operators, to wholesalers, retailers, transportation providers, marketing vendors...everyone from the farm to the kitchen benefits. Expenditures by workers generate sales, license and excise tax revenues to the state and local communities.... Everyone wins.... everyone except the fear mongers and rabble rousers using anxiety, xenophobia and misunderstanding to benefit only themselves, at the expense of all others.
There's only one missing point to your argument that trumps it all...if you reward the illegals by legalizing them, why have immigration laws, processes, and borders to begin with?! With your argument, why not just do away with borders and let anyone and everyone come in...after all, they'll just get legalize anyway, right? And while you're rewarding law breakers...why stop there? Why don't you just reward all the convicted murders with freedom. Reward all the non-tax paying citizens with tax-refund. And on and on and on.
End the entitlement culture and watch how quickly we solve the unemployment problem and illegal immigration. End unemployment checks, TANF, and SNAP. It's enough that we provide free section 8 housing and Medicaid. Let people go to soup kitchens until the get jobs that support themselves. A hungry belly should motivate them to work.
Yup, There is 12 Million jobs out there just waiting for all thoes lazy poor folks. LOL
Way back in the early 70's (in Washington state) kids who were 12 -15 went out in the fields during summer break and picked a variety of different crops. No one thought of it as menial labor and it was expected of most kids (we were all from middle class families) and we did that until we were 16 and old enough to get our first "real job." You were a little tired and dirty at the end of the day, but it helped instill a sense of responsibility, work ethic and you learned the value of a dollar very quickly.
Here it was picking strawberries and cheeries. Don't know if it's labor laws or lazyness or both today, but most kids today have no idea what actual work is.
Thank you, the point is that Americans are not signing up for these jobs. They only want to sit back, watch FAUX talking heads, and complain.
Yes – every time someone complains about immigrants legal or otherwise taking jobs, I ask them if they have been seeking work as a farm worker or restaurant kitchen. People are taking these jobs because Americans won't do them.
If you read the article, it states that the farm owners are getting american applicants, but they want a standard living wage, partly because they pay taxes, and do not rely on legalized citizens to pay for all their services. If these illegals didnt have tax payers to subsidize their lives, you would find that they too would require higher wages
Interesting, there may have been a change. A while ago farmers did issue a challenge to the unemployed and virtually no one applied.
In my community many children spent their summers removing the tassels from corn. I don't think the average kid today would know what a tassel is.
My kids are trying to find the corn, No luck tho. Things change. NO CORN HERE.
Back in my day, we had to walk uphill to school both ways in the snow, and we were LUCKY if we got a plastic bag to use as a coat.
Of course, just because I had to do it doesn't mean I want my kids and grandkids to suffer in the same way. I guess that just makes me a dumb ole Liberal, eh?
How about giving those jobs to LEGAL AMERICANS that need work!!!
Because they're too damn expensive to pay, or did you not read the article? Oh that's right, you're part of the illiterate, idiotic, close-minded, and bigoted group that pushed for this law, and soon will be complaining when different foods double or triple in price. Immigrant labor paid for the cheap goods you became accustomed to, can't wait to see your ilk crying foul when they can't even afford a head of lettuce.
PRISONERS DO THE WORK FOR A LOT LESS THAN THE ILLEGALS.. LET THE PRISONERS DO IT.
Read the G** Da** article. Inmates are being paid minimum wage and government is using your tax money to subsidize it. Immigrants, on the other hand, work for less than minimum wage, KNOWN FACT.
YES! Use any means or anyone possible to undermine wages, we need more poor workers.
WHY ? WHEN PRISONERS DO IT FOR $ 1 DOLLAR AN HOUR.
That seems great, until the prevailing human condition known as greed kicks in. Eventually, lobbyists(business owners) will be pushing for more laws and tougher sentencing to ensure they have a cheap labor force. in fifty years, if you jaywalk in Alabama, you will be picking cotton for 2 years.
These Americans do not apply for these jobs.
A while back the farm community issued a challenge to unemployed Americans to take these jobs and guess what? Virtually no one applied. Seems these people would rather sit around and watch FAUX NEWS talking heads and complain rather than take those jobs.
Yeah, I believe it was in Colorado? Someone posted in the comments section – "they should plant the crops in raised beds so the workers wouldn't have to bend over." Absolute proof that not everyone should be allowed to reproduce nor to vote.
It's The FOX News channel which stands for The Full of Xenophonics channel
Most wouldn't and you know it. I think it would cost an American more to pick than not to pick. I wouldn't live in a tent or a lean too 6 months out of the year. But I think a legal documented immigrant migrant worker might.
READ the article first....comments like yours should be moderated out
I don't agree with moderating this comment out.
1) that would be censorship and prohibited but the First Amendment.
2) leaving the comments out keeps these attitudes from "going underground" and out in the open for all to see and be aware of.
Oooops, caught by auto correct,
Should be ...prohibited by the...
Sorry for the repost in advance.
Seems as I might trigger the CNN filter.
Just in case here is the repost with alteration ,
Your comment is awaiting moderation.
My comment was with correction,
1) that would be censorship and prohibited but the First Amendment.
2) leaving the comments out keeps these attïtudes from "going underground" and out in the open for all to see and be aware of.
July 9, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Reply
Because she can't afford to pay them you idiot. Did you read the article at all? You're so stupid. Why don't you go pick some onions you luddite. They could use more imbeciles like you for such menial tasks.
Not only that, but very few of them are as skillful and productive as many migrant farm laborers. I have seen migrant laborers harvest 5, 10, even 20 times as much product, with equal or better quality, than less skilled workers unfamiliar with the process.... For any number of reasons the simple fact is that few non-migrant U.S. citizens will take these jobs, and even fewer will actually persist effectively enough to be even minimally productive enough to meet the needs of owners and operators....virtually none will be anywhere near productive enough to actually make a decent living at it. Make no mistake about it, our agricultural sector needs the currently 'illegal' migrants, and it's in our best interests materially they be available to meet the demands of our farm sector. And we all can maximize the material benefits, not just today, but in he long-run...if we legalize these people, invite and encourage them to join us as U.S. citizens, and stay here to raise their families and become, like all the rest of us, fellow Americans. This is not just the right thing to do, it's also, by far, the most rewarding, both for us today, and for our children and grand-children tomorrow.
Any legal American is welcome to these jobs. They just think they're too good for it, so others come in to pick up the slack.
Ain't that the truth
It is absolutely absurd to have above 8% unemployment, multiple layers of entitlements but have to have prisoners to do farm labor. Americans refuse to do this work because entitlements allow them to refuse. Artificially raising farm labor wages will not work in a global economy anymore than raising industrial wages... the jobs/work will just move to where its cheapest to produce.... hence our 15 Trillion dollar debt trying to maintain a standard of living that has been unsustainable... bankruptcy for our farms, businesses, and nation is the only way people will figure this out... then people will have to work.... or thieve (which they already are doing when they live off government handouts when there is a job just down the road).
ILLEGALS GET ABOUT $ 5 AN HOUR TO PICK UP THE FRUITS...NO INSURANCE-NO BENEFITS.. WOULD YOU DO IF YOU WERE AN AMERICAN CITIZENS ????/ FARMERS DO NOT WANT TO PAY A LIVING WAGE..
A LIVING WAGE IN MY BOOK IS $ 12 AN HOUR WITH INSURANCE–401–K....WHY COMPANIES DO NOT WANT TO HIRE AMERICANS.
$12/hour? How much do you suppose that would drive up the price of produce in the grocery stores? I don't know where you are from, but I do understand $12/hr isn't that much in some parts of the country. While I would love for everyone in the country to be middle class or higher, I think we've got to get our priorities in order first. As others on this board have said, we should be putting welfare recipients (physically capable ones) in those fields. They could work, say, 20 hours per week, and be required to actively pursue employment the other 20 hours per week. They could be paid minimum wages for the work, with an additional subsidy from unemployment as long as they are looking for work. This would keep the grocery bill down, too. I don't see how this wouldn't be a win-win situation, with cost-savings in the unemployment program as well as a drop in the unemployment rate. I'm sure there are also other job sectors that could substitute for the agricultural industry in non-farming communities.
CAPSLOCK MAEKS ME LOK SMARET
You are funny and so correct.
"Artificially raising farm labor wages will not work in a global economy..." Actually, by having the prisoners step in and do the labor at a lower than market rate, aren't we artificially LOWERING the labor wages? If the pay was at market rate, workers would be there, no?
"Everett and eight other inmates will have a few more weeks working with the onions, pulling down a minimum wage paycheck." My question is why do prisoners get minimun wage.?
I concur. Memo to prisoners, their lawyers, and the nation's judiciary: tell the prisoners, if you want to eat your next meal work three hours or starve. The prisoner works nine hours a day for three meals -or- six hours a day for two meals -or- three hours a day for a meal -or- eventually starves. Don't like it Mr./Ms. prisoner, then do not commit the crime.
Let's take all the posters who say we should take all those prisoners amd make them work for 25 cents an hour and make the posters work along side the prisoners. Most or all of them are either unemployed or on welfare anyway.
George, did you drink all the beer? Careful or you'll get drunk and choke on another pretzel then slide your face across some carpet while passing out like you did 11 years ago. Remember that abrasion on your cheek, George? America does and they knew you were just a loser drunk.
Farmers complain about lack of labor, but they don't advertise for pickers. If they did, people would apply. When was the last time you saw an ad for strawberry, apple, cucumber, peach or any other pickers?
Good – that is exactly what they should be doing!
I use a lot of onions & I don't care who picks them :-9
We're housing them for free, and they're just taking up space. Damn right put them to menial labor!
This is necessary growing pains if we're ever to do anything about this immigration problem. Yes, some farms obviously got too big to be able to handle themselves without that kind of labor, and it's those kinds of operations that are going to have to learn the hard lessons about sustainability.
Don't hire more people than you can reasonably pay.
Don't plant more than that workforce can maintain and harvest.
What ever happened to kids? Don't teenagers need jobs any more? I'd rather harvest onions than work at a McDonald's any day. You don't need immigrants OR prisoners, you need to start teaching your kids a work ethic again instead of letting them sit on their rears playing games or on the computer or cell phone, and show them what it means to get dirty, work hard, and earn a paycheck. Otherwise, we might as well just GIVE the country to the illegals, because the next generation isn't going to even bother standing up for it, they'll be too busy on Facebook.
Wait, you'd rather spend all day out in the hot sun stooping to pull onions of the ground and hauling 50 pound crates of onions for less than minimum wage than work in McDonalds... McDonalds where you can often getter better than minimum wage while working in an air conditioned building? Really? Do you want to reconsider that?
Not even a little. Farm work is hard, but at least there's decency in it.
Some of us teenagers actually WANT jobs and end up sitting on our rears playing games because nobody wants to hire us. I have been looking for a job since March. The only job offer I got was from a fake "charity" that has been sued many times over labor practices, and seemed like a pyramid scheme.
Hey why not just throw all of us into jail? We already have the largest incarceration rates in the world.
They could throw us all into jail, then pay us $1.00 an hour to pick vegetables to ship out to China.
What I don't understand is liberals will say "see no Americans are getting jobs, stupid conservatives" and "don't cry when your food bills go up" and "even americans wont take these jobs". When you put these together, you get the feeling that liberals support having this poverty-wage workforce that is easily manipulate due to fear of being reported. Why?
No one should have to work for less then the minimum/market wage, and not be entitled to OSHA standards due to their illegal status. Why do democrats support/want this?
First, you're misunderstanding, or at least misrepresenting the "liberals." They don't WANT people paid poverty wages, they just know that the system is already in place, that people would (and will) rage and cry when the cost of food goes up to pay people a living wage…
…and then there's this. There are going to be people (farmers and consumers) who DON'T want prisoners out of their cells picking the food for your nation. The balance has to be struck, though. Pay a living wage, or pay a higher grocery cost.
If you support free market principles, you should be up in arms about the prisoner labor. Using it is interfering with the market and artificially lowering the labor wage. Once the wage comes up to market rates it will attract the labor.
If it costs more to farm them, why would prices be down?
Someone is making money off selling them, or the price would climb.
Prices are down to the farmers but up for consumers. I'd say look to the processors and grocery stores to see who is making the profit.
Take the Juvenal and let them work for their keep and it would be a good education for them.Let the people that are in the court system that are up for d.w.i. and let them over see them to pay their fine or community service work.Take the money paid by the farmer and put a portion of it in the bank for the Juvenal when he gets out and the rest toward his keep while he is in custody.
My woman just told me we already pay 3.99 lb and I love onions in most dinners.
Eliminate the NFL and the NBA and train all those ex players how to pull carrots and dig onions. Give them a one way bus ticket to the San Joaquin Valley for a full time job harvesting food products! I believe with the right training program they could be taught to do a good job.
There is something wrong with you.
What? You didn't make the draft, or something? Bit bitter?
We use prisoners at my place of employment here in the MIdwest. The guys always show up for work and do the jobs people off the street don't want to do. Their empoyment works great for slack times in the business year as a prison employee does not need to placed on unemployment for lack of work. The men have the opportunity to come back and work for us after they get out of prison if they had good work habits.
I was going to comment that this would be a great way for FORMER inmates to get back into the work force and earn a little respect and credentials for getting other jobs later. Don't we have problems getting this population back into the work force? I like the sound of this plan where they work as an inmate and are rewarded with a paying job at the same place later when they have proven good work habits. Seems like a pretty great idea to me!
Arizona has had prison labor gangs for many years, and I think it is a good idea. The only problem is when prisons are
owned by private companies and are making a profit on the prison labor. Having to pay higher wages to American wokers
will only drive out all the US farmers and most of our produce will come from central and south amercan farms. California
used to supply most of the produce for american stores, now even the farmers markets sell products from outside of
I have an idea. Let's get all these people on welfare and food stamps, especially those multi-generational abusers, and have them pick her onions. That way she doesn't need government subsidies since her profits will be high enough to afford crop insurance.
You're painting with a wide brush. Not everyone is an abuser. In fact, statistically speaking, those folks are a very slim minority. Just like the witch hunt for those on drugs in Florida. The struggling people of this country, which are often Veterans and unemployed middle class workers trying to find jobs aren't slaves. If you'd like them to work full time on a farm, when do you suppose they should be out looking and applying for jobs?
You're missing the point. These farmers were paying people less than minimum wage. Now, when they have to pay the minimum, the Gov has to subsidize it. We can't have it both ways. If you don't want illegals and want a fair wage, we all have to pay way more for food. Simple economics.
Agreed. I don't mind paying $4.00 per pound for onions!
Folks, the general consensus is that we need Americans to work. If there is high unemployment, why do we need illegal immigrants to pick vegetables? The answer: the work is hard, and Americans want a high wage for hard work. Okay, pay a high wage and charge more for the product–simple economics. The next problem is that we (the U.S) are competing with other countries to produce and sell food. These other countries have very low labor costs. If we pay high labor costs, our farms go out of business–they can't compete with countries paying a few dollars a day for labor. The next problem is our low-wage labor force. I do landscaping every day; I try to hire americans, but the majority of them cannot physically hold up to do the job. I'm forced to hire people (immigrants) who can do the work or charge a fortune to to comple the project using slow Americans–dooming myself to going out of business because my competition is bidding jobs with an Hispanic labor force, which will do the job well in half the time. I've studied this problem quite a lot; your SIMPLE solutions won't work! Spend some time thinking about how to compete with countries that do not have a minimum wage, and you'll see that there is not an easy answer–tarrifs seem to be the only viable option, and I'm not sure that will work.
Prisoners doing field work, you're kidding me!!
But, but, but the GOP and T-Baggers said that these jobs would be taken up by hard working legal 'muricans!!
Most of them are 'muricans, and when Boss man is around they will work hard or else.
I know, that just cracks me up. We're going to see a lot of changes because of this, prices will go up on produce and crops will rot because they'll be no one to pick them. The teenagers today won't do this kind of work and everyone will think it's 'below' them, so the positions will be hard to keep filled. Some may work for a few days, then they'll realize how hard it really is and will quit on the spot.
That's totally an opinion. I think you're wrong though. If the pay was 50K/year + benefits to pick fruit, you honestly don't think there would be enough takers?
But you're right, for $3 an hour, many will quit on the spot when the realize how hard the work is. If you can pay guys 50k a year to clean the crap out of porta-potties at truck stops (city workers/caltrans), don't kid yourself, they will have no issue picking fruit.
If the pay was that high you'd get plenty of people working farm jobs. The problem is that the pay isn't that high and never will be.
The pay scales with workers skill level to accomplish job and availability of workers. I agree, wages will never be that high, because you'll always have people willing to do the work for minimum wage. If no one will work for 30k/year picking fruit, either two things will happen (1) consumers will no longer buy fruit (2) farmers will pay workers more. It's the same with every job. This is the reason why say undersea welders make much more money then welders on land, there are less people qualified for the job and less folks willing to take the risk.
The real problem is the farmers and consumers want to keep going on with UNREASONABLE WAGES, this needs to stop.
Publicize the costs (subsidies) and privatize the profits. And they accuse Obama of being a socialist.
I can make a lot of money selling women, but wait its against the law so I have to find another way. Illegals are breaking the law by living here, so no company should make money off of them. Too bad for those companies but for not being able to make money legally. They keep cost down but not living in some Mexican graffiti gangland is priceless
The majority of Latino immigrants become solid members of society within a generation or two of entering US. You are taking an image of inner city poverty and extending it to an entire race of people. How is that not racism?
Soooo, when do you wake up?
If they are illegal, then they NEVER become solid citizens period. They remain scum bag criminals. There is nothing racist about that whatsoever.
So for the fifty years they're here we have to put with their 3rd world ways. California has over 100,000 Mexican gang members. Their kids are going to be gangbangers. 8 i in 10 will need welfare till their kids have kids and go on welfare. Most are always going to be 3rd world so get them out and save my neighborhood or soon when illegals take over we'll see shaved head gangsters and their welfare families cram 15 people into a house cause they can't afford housing on their own. There's enough Mexicans here to gut fish and pick crops or be janiitors. Enough save American and get these 3rd world people back to their horrible country.
we could use those jobs we have people right here that need those jobs and are willing to work ;there was a time when the growers came here for workers but they stopped coming .COME TO MERIDIAN,MISSISSPPI AND GET SOME WILLING WORKERS!!!!!!
You must have missed the part about US citizens requiring higher wages than a farmer wants to pay. Maybe if our food costs go up we won't be so fat from eating too much.
thank you terri for being the only person here who took econ 101. why should farms be any different than any other business? if mcdonalds has to pay higher wages to attract workers, then the price of a big mac goes up. they don't get to lobby the govt to be able to hire undocumented workers. they certainly don't get to use slave labor. they are a business and they have to re-work their business model. why in the world would farms be any different? why should we undermine the entire american way of life to get vidalia onions for 60 cents a pound? You could triple that price without it making a dent in even the poorest family's budget, and pay workers a living wage that would make the harvesting job attractive to american workers... in turn, the people paying $2 a pound would not see double digit employment, their homes surrounded by vacant foreclosures and the public schools deteriorating as students' parents succumb to the pressures of long term unemployment and underemployment.
I just don't understand how no one seems to see the price of cheap stuff.
You want this lady to move her farm to your state? That seems like a lot of relocation costs for a farmer.
In addition to the relocation costs, the soil and climate would be different and may not be conducive to different crops?
Whole foods charging couple of bucks for same pound of onions ... injustice !
It’s a slippery slope when we start using prison labor. The US has more prisoners that any other country in the world. Our penal code incarcerates an enormous amount of people with counter-intuitive and selectively enforced laws. Our poor education system provides little opportunities for some than a life of crime. If prisoners are being used as labor and we run into a shortage, than what’s to stop us from incarcerating more people. We are looking at the very early stages of becoming more of a police state. What surprises me is that other Americans think this is a good idea. What would John Adams think who helped write the Massachusetts constitution in 1780 and helped to end slavery in that state?
waaaa, waaa, waaaa, about time they learn how to work!
It is indeed a slippery slope and not an easy spot for anyone to be in. I see people every day who are released from jail and unable to find work, I wonder if farmers could afford to pay them a living wage? This is a very difficult situation for everyone involved. Raise food prices so citizens can work the farms and we create another hardship for people already struggling to buy food.
Exactly. A lot of these inmates will be drug possession offenders - low violence, poor, uneducated types. They won't let out rapists and murderers.
The war on drugs is a great way to create an army of low-cost slaves.
I am forced to agree with you, and a slope of this nature, once on is a bugger to get back to the right. It took our forfathers changing continents and then fighting several wars to stop it the first time. So leave it voluntary and make sure the "police" don't take over. Wake up america. We are giving our country, our rights, and our civilization away.
Biff™ and Bitty™ are always so concerned about those who aren't quite up to their level of understanding. They're especially concerned about those "low-information voters" who just don't understand:
A New York City donor a few cars back, who also would not give her name, said Romney needed to do a better job connecting. “I don’t think the common person is getting it,” she said from the passenger seat of a Range Rover stamped with East Hampton beach permits. “Nobody understands why Obama is hurting them.
“We’ve got the message,” she added. “But my college kid, the baby sitters, the nails ladies — everybody who’s got the right to vote — they don’t understand what’s going on. I just think if you’re lower income — one, you’re not as educated, two, they don’t understand how it works, they don’t understand how the systems work, they don’t understand the impact.“
Gawd, it's tough being Biff™ and Bitty™. All around them there are nails ladies and babysitters who just don't understand that the black guy in the White House is out to get them, each and every one. And he has disappointed them so. Here they stepped up and donated and stuff in 2008 because he was a black guy full of hope and possibility, at least as far as possibility meant bowing and scraping to their demands, and yet. He passed that Republican socialist health care plan and ZOMG, Dodd-Frank! How will they survive another four years of THAT?
Biff™ and Bitty™ are fearless, too. They aren't afraid to stand up for their principles, unless those principles would cost them business. Can't have that!
A money manager in a green Jeep said it was time for Romney to "up his game and be more reactive." So far, said the donor, who declined to give his name because he said it would hurt his business, Romney has had a "very timid offense."
Ooooh, brave Biff™! Giving Mittens that advice while living in fear of losing business for having an opinion! This is Your Republican Party, folks. Step up and look close.
Replying to your self under a different screen name to appear as if coming from some one else?
Sure looks like it.
Dont know if you did, but if you did then you are pathetic.
Only you know the answere, but if the shoe fits, wear it.
Nail. Head. Hit.
Especially since you have different screen names but both screen names have "trademarks" on same words.
If there are two people then some one may want to pursue a trade mark violation, bit I doubt it.
Seemslike fair statement to say BUSTED!
Farmers put out a challenge for people to work the jobs of the migrant works and what did they get? The sound of crickets chirping, aka no applicants!
Now farmers are appealing for prison workers.
So where are these people who were complaining that immigrants were taking THEIR jobs.
Of course sitting at home, watching FOX, believing everything FAUX talking heads say as only the credulous can and complaining that the migrants are taking the jobs that they want (but do not really want, shhhh).
Todays tea party driven GOP is so ridiculous that it would be funny if not for the fact that this GOP = Greedy Obstructionist Party aka the Party of NO, is deliberately blocking any chance of progress in this country. All for the openly stated purpose of making Obama fail and be a one term president.
This is not compassionate conservatism nor is it patriotic. It is simply conservatism.
Copying my comment and pasting as your own, eh!
Did you think you would not get caught!
Funny thing you made an oooops aka error. You missed the bold text.
If you are going to copy some else's work give credit for it!
My comment was,
Close the borders, close the borders, build a double walled electric fence, the sky is falling, the sky is falling, fear, fear, listen to FAUX, listen to FAUX.
They are taking jobs from Americans.
Now migrants are vanishing, we should have more Americans employed right?
So where are these people who were complaining that immigrants were taking THEIRjobs.
Of course sitting at home, watching FOX, believing everything FAUX talking heads say as only the credulous can and complaining that the migrants are taking the jobs that they want (but do not really want, shhhh).
July 9, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Reply
Yours is the same without the bold text.
Looks totally different to me, just similar thoughts. You think you're the only one who thinks that way?
It is word for word.
I am not silly enough to think others do not think this, but it is word for word and in my personal syntax or vernacular,
sooooo yes it was copied.
Who in their right mind would do backbreaking work for poverty level wages? Even the Mexicans and Asians are turning these kind of job offers away.
Any business that pays a fair and livable wage has zero problems finding workers. Maybe farms should start doing this. Instead they are the worst employers on the planet. You don't get paid overtime if you work more than 40 hours in a week and now they are exploiting prison inmates. Disgusting.
Backbreaking work for poverty level wages and no health care to boot!
What is disgusting is our prisoners sitting around all day, watching tv, working out, rotating in and out of jail because they never learned how to work for a living so three meals a day and a place to hang out sounds great; jail is not so bad a deal for them. What is wrong with using them to work off some of the taxpayer money going to support their illegal butts? After all only 50 percent of Americans are paying taxes the rest are living off of those tax payers. How long do we go on giving free rides to people who break the law for a living?
That 50% not paying taxes earn so little they are below the poverty level, how much worse off do you think they deserve to be. How about employers paying a living wage so that they make enough to pay taxes? I don't hear anyone crying about the huge percentage in interest the wealthy charge those who can least afford it. It is fine when the wealthy rip everyone off though.
No kidding! LOTS of job opportunities and employment options in the poorest areas of our country. Tons of choices for advancement when schools are underfunded and are forced to pass kids through like an assembly line. Want kids who are smart, and driven enough to get jobs? Try investing in the schools you force them to attend for 12 years.
Sorry Pinhead, you are wrong about the taxes. The 50% (+/- a few points) number you erroneously bandy about refers to the number of households that pay federal income tax. That does not mean that they pay NO taxes. There are plenty of other taxes that they DO pay on a daily basis.
Watch food prices soar when they begin to pay a living wage. Not that I am against it, it is just a fact of what would happen.
So, what this article says to me is that before the Georgia law passed, farmers were taking advantage of illegal immigrants and paying them far below minimum wage. Now that they have to pay workers the legal minimum, they discover that they can't afford to stay open at the previous prices. Well, good. Let's pay an honest rate for our food. Let's pay a fair wage to our workers. And let's stop taking advantage of people who lack representation. If anti-illegal immigration laws are what it takes, let's do it. Force the farmers to pay fairly. The abuse of migrants needs to stop.
Migrant worker is a documented temp immigrant, not an illegal alien, two different categories, FACT.
You mean there are NO migrant workers who are not "documented temp immigrants". Are you sure about that?
And I don't mean just one or two, but likely very many are not "documented temp immigrants"
Are you really sure about your claim? The burden of proof is on the claiment, care to share your sources documenting your claim?
I get it-you like to bold your words. It doesn't make your argument any more compelling.
Wrong, your point is correct for people who excessively use all caps, exclamation points (see Internet rules) or all bold, which I have not yet seen.
Using bold or caps in small selected text to hight light or bring a point more to the forefront is valid.
Your right if your given a limited work visa your documented if you don't then your an illegal working illegal hired illegally.
Oh the ignorance... a migrant worker is someone who works on farms moving from place to place doing only that type of work. They could harvest onions in Georgia and then they move to another state to harvest berries. They could be LEGAL or ILLEGAL. I come from a family of migrant farm workers so I know that some are legal and some are not. Before these laws the farmers didnt care as long as they were getting their profits. I for one am glad these laws are in place. We need to give the migrant farm workers the wages they deserve. It is the toughest back breaking work Ive ever done
Jenny no argument here, but there is a legal way to be here and then there is the Illegal aliens way. I pay 6.39 per cantaloupe, 3.99 lb for onions, 3.99 lb for grapes, etc. Cheap if you compare the cost incurred a state to support the illegal, low pay or not.
The point is to stop allowing Farmers, or anyone else, to make profits by paying unreasonable wages. What ever it costs to raise and market onions that is what it costs. stop trying to justify mistreating workers with the price of onions.
We have been mislead by cheaper produce; Pay a fair wage and the rest of us will have to get used to the REAL costs of a Valdalia [or a Grand Canyon Sweet!] onion.
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