Unsung Heroes: Mexican Laborers Still Working Hard In The Fields, Providing Our Food
"Without them, everything ceases to exist."
The people who put food on our table don't get to work from home.
As the majority of Americans "shelter in place," farmworkers head out to the fields, rain or shine, for 12-hour days, making sure we can restock our grocery shelves and put food on the table.
Let's hear it for the farm workers, the essential workers who are still out in the fields laboring hard to keep food on our tables and supermarket shelves. Let's let them know how much we appreciate the hard work they do to keep us fed during the #COVID19 pandemic. #WeFeedYou pic.twitter.com/QQHyBSGujW— United Farm Workers (@UFWupdates) March 22, 2020
Like healthcare and grocery store workers, the United States' 2.5 million farmworkers, most of them Mexican, many of them undocumented, have been designated "essential workers."
COVID-19 is spreading rapidly around the world, but the world needs to be fed. My dad out in the Central Valley Orange fields early this Sunday AM l, as well as many other farmworkers who can’t afford not to work. Thank a farmworker. #theyfeedus #protectfarmworkers #coronavirus pic.twitter.com/HESR32TKk7— Maricela Gutiérrez ???? (@Maricela_SIREN) March 15, 2020
Agriculture is the backbone of the U.S. economy, and Mexican and Latino migrant laborers make up 80 percent of the industry's workforce.
They are the definition of "essential." Without their labor, crops rot, we starve, and the country crumbles.
According to a statement by the United Farmworkers Union, "The people who put food on our table do not get to telecommute."
Or, as the Senior VP of the US Apple Association put it to Mother Jones:
"Without these workers, everything ceases to exist."
We often thank health workers and scientists but let’s not forget these unspoken heroes in our country. https://t.co/xKCxD7DL3R— Angel Cobo (@AngelCobo_UCD) March 23, 2020
Farmworkers work under brutal conditions, with few protections that are often ignored. They have no health insurance, criminally low wages, and are afraid to speak up for fear of deportation.
And while we rely on them to feed our families, oftentimes, they can't afford to feed their own - especially with panic-buyers clearing the shelves.
Farmworkers are being left without food and materials as others shop while they work. Please think of these critical and #essential workers who help feed the nation and do not buy more than you need. #coronavirus #farmworkers #liderescampesinas pic.twitter.com/cwTvwbj5MW— Lideres Campesinas (@LCampesinas) March 23, 2020
As COVID-19 runs rampant across the country and the world, farmworkers are especially vulnerable. They don't have the option to quarantine, and, despite mandates to the contrary, no one to educate them about safety precautions as they pick, no protective gear, and nowhere to turn if they get sick.
The DHS deemed farmworkers critical to our nation’s basic infrastructure. They’re working while the rest of us “shelter in place.”— United Farm Workers (@UFWupdates) March 21, 2020
They’re feeding us from the shadows, just as vulnerable to disease, injury and exploitation as ever. Help here.#WeFeedYouhttps://t.co/QJOMpyyo5B
My mom and two sisters are still getting up everyday to go work in the fields during this pandemic and they don’t complain a single bit. Yes they do worry about their health but they don’t receive any type of benefits or even offer em emergency pay. For them it’s just another day https://t.co/jCxbIlr2uB— Giggles (@carinafulgencio) March 22, 2020
"America needs farmworkers," writes de Loera. "As we honor first responders, health care workers, and others on the front-lines of the current crisis, let’s not forget farmworkers. They are both among the most essential and vulnerable populations in this crisis...it’s only right to honor their work with fair pay and equal rights."