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Migr World Mag. 1986;14(4):14-8.

Puerto Rican migrant farmworkers: an untold story.



Thousands of Puerto Rican farmworkers have annually migrated to the US mainland. In 1947, the inhuman conditions that the Puerto Rican farmworker faced on the mainland forced a crisis on the island where in 1948 the Puerto Rican government established the Migration Division of its Department of Labor and specifically mandated that it oversee the annual outflow of farmworkers. The Farmworkers' Support Committee (CATA) involves and educates farmworkers in various ways, as well as has organizers visit camps on a regular basis as soon as the farm season has begun. CATA convenes regional meetings organized by worker committees in the different regions of Southern New Jersey where farm workers from different farms can get together and discuss common problems. The large majority of New Jersey farm-workers are Hispanic from Puerto Rico and Mexico. In 1978, the average annual income for a farmworker's family of 4 was $3000, over 40% below the poverty line. During the harvest of 1980, CATA was involved in several labor disputes, but the big one was the Sunny Slope strike in South Jersey. Puerto Rican farmworkers employed on farms in southern New Jersey face living and working conditions, exploitation, and a host of problems that are much worse than other workers face, and that stem, ultimately from their powerlessness. Although there is a lack of funding, training for staff, and organization and communication between areas of work, CATA's final goal is to become a movement to support and advocate for the formation of a farm workers union, "controlled and directed by farmworkers."

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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