About Migrant Workers

Startling Statistics
• 1.3 million U.S. citizens migrate between states for agricultural work.
• The education rate is incredibly low for migrant workers. The education average of a worker is a sixth grade education and some still can't read, write, and speak English.
• 61% of workers are below the poverty level
• Was named the second most dangerous job in the U.S. in 2000. Due to the pesticides, harsh weather conditions, traveling, and the low life expectancy for the workers.
• The workers are poor, and a racial minority. Most live at or below the poverty line.
• 88% of workers are males, who often live alone in the U.S. and send money home to their family in their country, and occasionally visit.
• 55% of the workers are married, and 71% of them do not live with their spouse.
• Many come to work in the U.S. in their 20's, and then go back and forth between the U.S. and their own country until they are to old to work anymore.
• 65% of workers are illegally in the country, 93% are foreign born.
• The average age of a worker is 31 years old.
• In 1998, the General Association Office estimated that there were 300,000 children working in the fields as migrant workers, the United Farm Workers estimated 800,000.
• 1992, the average yearly income for migrant workers was $6,500.
• A minimum wage for average Americans was established in 1938, but the minimum wage for agriculture workers was established in 1966 and was lower than the minimum wage of average Americans.
• Migrant workers are segregated
• They have to work 10-12 hour days, 6-7 days a week.

Frantz Pierre v. Seaside Farms

A Haitian migrant worker was injured at his housing provided by his employer in 2003. He wanted compensation for his lost wages and the medical cost. The company had a bunkhouse rule, which required workers to stay in the housing while they worked for the company. The migrant worker, Frantz Pierre, fractured his ankle when he was walking on the sidewalk outside his barrack. Pierre claimed that he slipped on water that was coming from inside. After six years, Pierre won the case with compensation of his lost wages and Seaside Farms payed for his medical costs. Pierre was glad the battle was over because now less work would have to be done by other workers to get compensation of injuries on the job.

Migrant Workers in the Area

DeCoster Eggs Farms
DeCoster Eggs Farms is the largest brown egg producer in the nation and is located in Turner, Maine. The people who work there are migrant workers, the majority of them being Hispanic from Latin America and Caribbean nations. Eighty five percent of the workers there are male, and fifteen percent are female. The men work as farm laborers an the women work in the packing plant. Many things that are true for the average migrant worker are true for migrant workers at DeCoster. The average age is 32, the average education is that of a seventh grader's, but some still can't read, write, or speak English, and they live at or below the poverty line. DeCoster provides housing, but like most, it is of very low quality. Also, DeCoster charges them $30 per week, so they aren't able to make much money from their job there. The workers live in trailers with two to three families living in one. For the men who are without families, there is a single trailer reserved for them, which 16 men live in at the moment. There is an estimated 160 adults and 50 children living in the housing. There is no sense of community, because there are no churches, stores, parks, or recreation centers. Residents are prohibited from holding meetings, social gatherings, and connecting with others by means of newspapers, bulletin boards, or cable TV. The trailers are infested with pests and rats and have many safety hazards. They have broken doors and windows, leaking plumbing, missing or broken smoke detectors, holes in the walls and flooring, exposed electrical wiring, damaged furniture, and broken appliances.The air is very poluted because of the farm, which is very close to the workers' line of trailers. This problem was caused by the farm using several different chemicals, and much dust and manure in the air. The company claimed to have installed a well with safe drinking water, but it was found to be contaminated. This too was the farm's fault, because they buried manure by the water supply. The shopping centers in the area are only accessible by car, however most don't own one. Many get harassed by locals when they leave their community, so they usually try to stay at the farm. Their employers at DeCoster threatened them that they would lose their jobs if they tried to get outside help so they feel trapped and powerless.

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