Politico: Harvest of shame: Farmworkers face coronavirus disaster. “Within days of the coronavirus pandemic taking hold, the Trump administration had to confront a reality it had long tried to ignore: The nation’s 2.5 million farmworkers, about half of whom the government estimates are undocumented, are absolutely critical to keeping the food system working. It was a major shift for a president who continues to reduce any debate about immigration to stoking fears about border defense and crime. But the Trump administration and Congress have done little to help keep farmworkers safe on the job.”
Bloomberg: Getting Covid Gets You Fired When You’re a Food Worker on a Visa. “As coronavirus cases explode at U.S. farms and food factories, the foreign migrants who pick fruit, clean seafood and sort vegetables are getting trapped in tightly packed bunkhouses where illness spreads like wildfire. Often, they can’t leave — unless they’re willing to risk deportation.”
Los Angeles Times: A farmer, ‘little ghosts’ and 18,000 tobacco plants: How COVID-19 upended farming in South Korea. “He was in his third hour of picking tobacco, beginning shortly after dawn at the foot of a mountain in a sleepy South Korean town. Weaving between rows lining the gentle slope, he stooped to snap off the ripe, yellow-tinged leaves from plants as tall as he. Nearby, Park Jong-bum took a break from heaving bales of tobacco onto a truck bed. He lit a cigarette beneath a cloudy sky. He had quit smoking last year, but the stresses of running a farm had hooked him again. Park and Phonsrikaew were on the second chapters of their lives: Phonsrikaew a 52-year-old Thai army captain-turned-migrant farmworker, and Park, 49, a South Korean businessman who returned to his native farming village after two decades of city life.”
United Farm Workers: After a death and quarter of work force infected by COVID-19, Primex letting go workers who complained & turned to UFW. “With one Primex Farms LLC worker dead from the novel coronavirus and a quarter of its workforce now infected, the large Wasco, Calif. pistachio and almond processing firm announced it is letting go many of the workers who complained about the failure to properly protect them and turned for help to the United Farm Workers, according to Primex employees who were informed on Thursday. The UFW is filing unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board alleging illegal retaliation for union and concerted activities.”
Los Angeles Times: This county knew coronavirus could ravage its farmworkers. Why didn’t officials stop it?. “As coronavirus cases began to grow in San Joaquin County in June, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs proposed requiring citizens to wear a mask in his city in the center of the fertile valley, where agriculture is king and poverty pervasive. The response he received from the county emergency services director, a key figure in coordinating the pandemic response, was disquieting, he said. ‘Stay in your lane,’ wrote Shellie Lima in a June 9 email to Tubbs obtained by The Times, days before the county allowed card rooms, hotels and day camps to open. ‘I am against the proposed mask ordinance for Stockton … Why would our elected officials feel that they have the medical understanding to do so?'”
Stanford Libraries: Stanford Libraries acquires the archive of photojournalist David Bacon. “Stanford Libraries has added the work of David Bacon, a Bay Area-based photographer, author, political activist and union organizer, to its photography collection. Bacon has been documenting the lives of farm workers since 1988, and his archive joins a robust and growing collection of photography archives at Stanford.” The collection has not yet been processed, but there are plans to build a digital archive.