Farmworkers on Strike

Labor Day got me to thinking about this photo of farm workers on strike in Immokalee, Florida. I spent a lot of time covering migrant farm workers in South Florida and had gotten to know this crew well enough that I talked them into taking a reporter and me into the fields with them.

I spent the day shooting photos and trying to avoid being shot by the farm owner (fortunately for me, the guy’s wife liked me well enough to intervene). My partner spent the day picking peppers. He was paid $18 for a day’s work: $17 of it in cash, and a buck withheld for Social Security by the crew chief. Whether that buck ever made it to Washington is a matter of conjecture. My buddy said, “When I retire, the very first dollar I spend is going to be the dollar I earned picking peppers.”

Not long after that, I went back to Immokalee to cover the workers striking for their pay to be raised from $18 a day to $22.50 a day. The strike was unsuccessful.

I am, if you haven’t guessed, the guy with a camera over his shoulder.