- The average annual income for crop workers is between $10,000 and $12,499 for individuals and $15,000 and $17,499 for families.
- The current federal minimum wage for someone who earns tips is $2.13 per hour and has not been increased for the last 21 years (though some states have higher rates). Partly because of that, servers have three times the poverty rate of the rest of the U.S. workforce, and use SNAP benefits (food stamps) at double the rate.
- Farm workers are regularly exposed to chemical pesticides that have been linked to birth defects, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, cancer, and reproductive problems.
- The Immokalee Workers throughout Florida are some of the most marginalized in the country. Since 1997, Federal Civil Rights officials have successfully prosecuted seven slavery operations involving over 1,000 workers in Florida’s tomato and orange fields.
- Over 10 million Americans work in restaurants, and almost 90 percent don’t receive a single paid sick day. Because of that, two-thirds of those workers report cooking, preparing, or serving food while sick.
What You Can Do
- Hold Food Day events that highlight issues of food and farm worker justice. You can host a panel discussion or debate on the issues, have farm workers speak about the issues at your local farmers market, or have food workers lead tours of kitchen facilities and speak to guests.
- Send a letter or call your U.S. senators and representative to ask them to support the Miller-Harkin Fair Minimum Wage Act, which proposes to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour over the next three years and the tipped minimum wage from $2.13 to 70 percent of the regular minimum wage.
- Next time you dine out, ask the restaurant manager if the workers receive paid sick days and speak to the employees about their working conditions.
- Visit the websites of the United Farm Workers, Farmerworker Justice, Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, Student Action with Farmworkers, Coalition of Immokalee Workers, and UNITE HERE to learn more about what you can do now.
Photo Credit: Real Food Challenge