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Farm Worker Wages: Wouldn't You Pay Two Cents More for a Head of Lettuce So a Farm Worker Could Feed His Own Family?

August 20, 2001

As many of us are aware, the people who pick our fruits and vegetables are among the most exploited, poorly paid workers in this country.  Anyone who still receives literature from the United Farm Workers union understands that the plight of many of these workers -- who do some of the most unpleasant, back-breaking work imaginable -- has not improved significantly since the Cesar Chavez-led grape boycott way back when.

What most people don't realize is how easy it would be to remedy the situation, at least as far as wages.

Did you know that according to a study of farm worker wages by a researcher at the University of California at Davis

...if a 35 percent farm worker wage increase were fully passed through to consumers, and if there were no productivity improvements in response to the farm worker wage increase, the farm worker wages and benefits embodied in a $1 head of lettuce would rise from about 7 to 9 cents, and the retail price from $1 to $1.02.

Two cents for each head of lettuce seems an awfully small price for American consumers to pay to insure that those who pick this vegetable are paid enough to themselves be able to feed and otherwise take care of their families.

What about farm worker wages in connection with other crops?

For all fresh fruits and vegetables, the average American would spend about $34 a year more if farm worker wages rose 35 percent, and $67 more if they rose 70 percent.

Gee, who among us can't afford ten or even twenty cents a day!

All the more reason why paying such pitiful wages to these hard-working people is an outrage!

This was a selection from The Daily Diatribe

How about paying 5 cents more for a shirt?

More on Economic Injustice

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