Thousands of farmworkers in California can’t make a living

by David Bacon

The home of the family of Alberto Martinez and Rufina Perez, Triqui migrant farm workers, in a plywood shack in the fields outside Hollister. Photo: David Bacon  

At the end of the 1970s California farm workers were the highest-paid in the U.S., with the possible exception of Hawaii’s long-unionized sugar and pineapple workers. Today their economic situation is not much different from that of their coworkers elsewhere around the country. California’s agricultural laborers are trapped in jobs that pay the minimum wage and often less, and are mostly unable to find permanent year-round work.