On May 23rd and 24th La Union Del Pueblo Entero worked with Rose Green-Flores, Director of Communications, & Julie Taylor, Executive Director from the Nation Farm Worker Ministry to “educate, equip and mobilize people of faith and conscience…to develop new resources to help connect farm worker realities and opportunities for action with people in congregations and communities around the country.” As they wished to capture the “challenges faced by farm workers in South Texas.”
When I think of “challenges,” the stories and victories organizers share with one another come to mind. I've learned that LUPE has achieved many victories such as: raising pay for farm workers, drinking water & restrooms in the fields, along with the continuous battles against wage theft. Witnessing what occurs in the fields has been eye-opening. We began our day learning about picking. One of the farm workers told us they use their own hands to pluck weeds. Causing them to end the day with numbness in their hands, only to tough it out for the next day. We also experienced the scorching heat against our backs, heat that spans acres and acres of farm land. By the end of the day I learned of the pay system that comes from picking. This whole time I believed they got paid for each fruit or vegetable picked until Rose, and Julie mentioned that payment comes from filling up the crates and trucks that drive off to processing plants. More shockingly was the difference between the wages of farm workers, and the price markups of fruits and vegetable in super markets.
Elizabeth Marquez, a Community Organizer from LUPE, joined us during the 2nd day of this video project. She was able to get us in touch with numerous farm workers needed for the video. Also, she surprised us by bringing “farm worker kits,” these included masks, gloves, socks, and other items farm workers would need during their long working hours. She was well prepared and knows exactly what is needed for farm workers who consistently work in the burning heat.
This project allowed me to understand the hardships that farm workers face in terms of labor. On our first day of shooting the workers were given the day off, but there really isn't a “day off” for farm workers. Some of them went off to work elsewhere as they need the money to sustain their families and themselves.
This is only a small bit of what we experienced in the fields. There is more to be said, but the stories and interviews will be held along with the final video scheduled for 2024.