Quotes: On Migrant Labor

From In the Valley of Fear by Michael Greenberg in The New York Review of Books, on migrant labor in the San Joaquin Valley:

“Tomato picking is “stoop labor,” the most wearying and painful kind. But the Oaxacans went at it with dizzying speed. The pay was 73 cents for every five-gallon bucket they could fill, which workers prefer to the alternative of $11 per hour, California’s minimum wage. Younger workers filled two buckets at a time, yanking supersized green tomatoes from their plants, flicking off the stems, dropping them into the bucket, then racing to deliver them to the packing trailer hitched to a tractor fifty or sixty yards away at the end of the section. They then ran back to the harvest row, calling and shouting to one another like soldiers to keep up their spirits and pace. In five hours, a skilled picker could earn between $75 and $85.”

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