“Injustice on Our Plates: Immigrant Women in the U.S. Food Industry”

To coincide with the Thanksgiving holiday, the Southern Poverty Law Center has just released a paper titled Injustice on Our Plates: Immigrant Women in the U.S. Food Industry.  The paper concerns the exploitation of mostly undocumented immigrant women who work in the U.S. food industry and is based upon interviews with 150 women.  The women talk about having to subsist on poverty wages, being subject to wage theft, and being sexually abused.  As is well-known, the women generally do not report the abuses because it would mean that they would lose their jobs, be reported to the immigration officials, and/or be subject to even more abuse.

 

The Executive Summary of the report says:

 

Fifty years ago this Thanksgiving, CBS broadcast “Harvest of Shame,” an Edward R. Murrow documentary that chronicled the plight of migrant farmworkers. Murrow closed the program with this commentary: “The migrants have no lobby. Only an enlightened, aroused and perhaps angered public opinion can do anything about the migrants. The people you have seen have the strength to harvest your fruit and vegetables. They do not have the strength to influence legislation.”

Not much has changed.

Unfortunately, it is obvious that not much has changed in 50 years.  The SPLC report has some recommendations for Congress, the Department of Homeland Security, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Department of Labor, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the states.

While you are enjoying the Thanksgiving food, remember the plight of the many immigrant women who have worked hard to bring you the food.  Also remember their plight if you happen to get into any conversations with an anti-immigration xenophobe.

 

 

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