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Farm workers’ union takes a new tack

Speaking of farm workers, we’re enjoying the new campaign the United Farm Workers union has rolled out. It’s called “Take Our Jobs” (www.takeourjobs.org), and it’s a tongue-in-cheek effort to point out that blaming high unemployment on undocumented immigrant workers is silly.

The union is offering to find a job for any American who wants one. As the job description reads, it “may include using hand tools such as knives, hoes, shovels, etc. Duties may include tilling the soil, transplanting, weeding, thinning, picking, cutting, sorting & packing of harvested produce. May set up and operate irrigation equip. Work is performed outside in all weather conditions (Summertime 90+ degree weather) & is physically demanding, requiring workers to bend, stoop, lift & carry up to 50 lbs on a regular basis.”

UFW President Arturo Rodriguez, interviewed on The Colbert Report, said that so far just three people have signed up.

Farm work is the most difficult labor undocumented workers perform, but it’s hard to imagine people rushing to become poultry pluckers, meatpackers, landscaping grunts, hotel maids, nannies and housekeepers, either. Perhaps if the jobs paid better …

Farm workers are pressing hard these days to convince Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to sign SB 1121, a bill by Sen. Dean Florez (D-Shafter) that would extend to them the same overtime rights other workers enjoy. Currently they, alone among occupational groups, receive overtime only after working more than 10 hours in a day or 60 hours in a week. If that doesn’t seem right or fair to you, that’s because it isn’t. The governor should sign the bill.