#WeFeedYou goes viral, honors farm workers still working amid COVID-19
Farm workers put food on the table throughout the country, and are hardly ever recognized for the essential work they do. A hashtag is trying to shine light on them.
Seven months into the coronavirus pandemic, and the nation’s essential farm workers have yet to get the recognition they deserve for continuing to work amid hazardous circumstances. In response to the lack of stimulus money for these essential workers and the wildfires that are threatening more by the day, a social media campaign has spawned to shine a light on the injustice. The hashtag #WeFeedYou has recently begun trending on Twitter and is a product of United Farm Workers of America (UFW).
The organization was begun in 1962 by activists César Chávez, Dolores Huerta, Gilbert Padilla and more. It was created to protect California farm workers from exploitation and create a union for them. Over the last 48 years, UFW have been the organization on the forefront of protecting farm workers not just on the West Coast, but nationwide. In 2016, they helped craft the first law in the country that provided farm workers in California overtime pay after eight hours of work.
The #WeFeedYou campaign started in various tweets throughout the week of Oct. 12, as the organization posted different facts about the dire situation of the farm workers amid the multiple crises of 2020. One disclosed that farm workers earn just $1.86 for every 60 bundles of radishes they pick. Despite their efforts, they also still pay more annual taxes than the president.
I have nothing but love for our farmworkers! They feed us. We must continue to strengthen protections for their labor and sacrifice. https://t.co/JdNLsvSjLU
— Ash Kalra (@Ash_Kalra) October 16, 2020
Another tweet highlighted that for every 60 bundles of parsley picked, workers are paid about $1.90.
Average CA piece rate pay for parsley work is around $1.90 per crate of 60 bundles.
Many folks are shocked by piece rates, and ask how it’s legal to pay workers less than $2 per crate. Before we do reply-guy math, let’s talk about labor law!#WeFeedYou pic.twitter.com/8MDov88SeS
— United Farm Workers (@UFWupdates) August 1, 2020
Another thread of the tweets was all about the Fair Labor Standards Act passed in 1938. It was created to protect workers from being taken for granted and instituted aminimum wage, banned child labor, and barred other forms of exploitation. However in 2020, videos are surfacing that display the kind of exploitation banned a long time ago.
These abysmal working conditions have been exacerbated by the pandemic, and it isn’t looking up..
“It is extremely difficult for those workers to be able to social distance themselves, and so I think it is incredibly important that the workers and those who are supervising the workers take into account some of the things that they can do to protect the workers from potentially becoming infected with coronavirus,” said Kent E. Pinkerton, an expert in farmworker health, and the director of Center for Health and the Environment.
UFW has also started a petition against the Trump Administration’s attempt to further lower the already low wage of farm workers.
TAKE ACTION: Sign the petition to @USDA Ag @SecretarySonny Perdue protesting Trump Admin's latest attempt to lower farm worker wages. https://t.co/5RLTGtSdYK
UFW & UFWF have filed suit to defend farm workers in the face of Trump H2-A changes.#WeFeedYou pic.twitter.com/PPUzp55XDz
— United Farm Workers (@UFWupdates) October 14, 2020
If you too feel that farm workers are essential, and understand that if it weren’t for them we would be picking and growing our own food, then take action. #WeFeedYou