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