The Struggle of US Farmers at the Forum on Food Sovereignty

Immigrant workers are a great part of the labor force in the United States. Although there are no exact figures, it is estimated that 80% of the workers in the farming sector are foreigners. This makes the agriculture sector special. The farmers work under insecure conditions and it is hard for them to form trade unions.

Tirso Moreno, general coordinator of the Farmerworker Association of Florida said “There are two things that make their unionization difficult, one of them is their condition of undocumented workers, their concern of being dismissed or not having access to public utilities; and the second one is that in most US states they are not entitled to form trade unions and are therefore deprived of the right to be members of a trade union”.

However, despite all this, immigrant workers have organized and obtained important victories, for instance milk farmers in the state of Oregon.

Erik Nicholson, a member of United Farm Workers of America told Real World Radio: “We’ve successfully organized one of the world’s largest milk farms, with around 55,000 cows. The workers took the chance because the company could have given the excuse that they have no legal papers in order to kick them out. But as a result of the pressure and support from the community and within companies that buy the product, we’ve managed to successfully organize this milk farm and now these workers are about to earn better salaries and have more benefits than any milk farm could give in the US”.

Moreno underscored the support of all the society to the struggle of the farmworkers, by putting pressure or as consumers or in their work with community organizations.

Moreno also explained that this year there will be a massive protest on May 1st, with a general strike and a day of “non consumption”. The reasons for this are the same that led to the 2006 demonstration, where thousands of people ejected a bill against immigrants. They demand a fair immigration law.