I may have picked those cranberries, potatoes for your Thanksgiving dinner. Support higher wages for farmworkers.
By Juan Garcia
As you and your family gather around the table to celebrate Thanksgiving, take a good look at what will be served at the table.
You’ll probably see mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, cranberry sauce, green beans, and apple pies. This year, let’s give thanks to the farmworkers, who have labored through harsh conditions while earning low wages, to bring that food from the field to your table.
I am honored to be writing on behalf of myself and my fellow farmworkers who work.
For almost 23 years, I have been harvesting the vital vegetables that are brought to the consumers table. I have always worked with love and dedication, defying any bad weather.
If it is hot, we must protect ourselves well. The same with the rain, you have to put on big rubber jumpsuits and big boots that doubles the weight on the worker and doubles the amount of energy it takes to do the work.
With respect to minimum wages: I have made $6, $7 and $8 an hour. I have worked hard for many hours a day just to make a minimum amount each week to support myself and my family. Farmworkers push and stretch to make enough for the sustenance of their families and to cover essential expenses.
Perhaps sometimes we can say it is a decent wage, but it has never been a dignified one.
That is why now, more than ever, we request, in the most attentive and respectful way, to include us — the farmworkers — in the state in any plan to increase the minimum wage. All farmworkers must unite and fight to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour for all workers.
We will all continue working from sunrise to sunset with the hope of receiving a minimum wage of $15 per hour. It makes us proud, considering that all kinds of fruits and vegetables that our hands cut, pull, wash and pack will go to the tables in your kitchens to create delicious dishes with balanced foods.
The result of our work is a table that reflects a beautiful rainbow with products harvested by farmworkers representing all the colors.
So, on this Thanksgiving Day, put your hand on your heart and recognize the needs of farmworkers, acknowledging that they must receive a decent and fair wage, for themselves and especially for the care of their families.
It is a moral duty to help those living in poverty. I, and all New Jersey farmworkers, say thank you.
Juan Garcia, of Sicklerville, has worked at various farms throughout South Jersey over the past 20 years. He is an active member of CATA- the Farmworkers’ Support Committee.
About the Grantee
Our organization - CATA - The Farmworkers' Support Committee was founded by migrant farmworkers in Southern New Jersey in 1979. The mission of CATA is to educate workers about their rights and support them as they develop and exercise leadership skills in order to create a better life for themselves and their communities.
Cohort: South 2
Funder: New Jersey Health Initiatives