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View Diary: Apple boom in WA- but few pickers... (32 comments)

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  •  In the 70s many Anglos (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PSWaterspirit, dlemex, frosti, mookins

    followed the harvests from state to state, just like the Latino migrants from Texas and south. It's a rough life and hard work, but being outdoors and footloose was seen as a positive.

    One would meet hippies, the dispossessed, people on the lam, writers and poets, and many wonderful migrant workers. People lived in migrant camps or in nearby small motel-type arrangements. They moved with the harvests, from state to state.

    It's not unheard of for "Americans" to do hard physical work out in the weather. But it's always seemed a bit silly to me that some people will go to a gym to work out, but would look down on good honest physical labor.

    Where I live, farmers have advertised for local field workers but have had no luck in hiring anyone. They have to do this before they can hire immigrant labor.

    •  They do it all the time (2+ / 0-)
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      mookins, marina

      Just look around you. There are lots of people doing hard physical labor on a daily basis.  I didn't even know there was a shortage of pickers and I am right here in the state. I am also in a position to tell people who could use the money. So much for them getting the word out.

      But I would agree that the cost of gas to get to eastern Washington would probably stop many from getting there. At this point we are talking probably $50 to $100 just to get there from the western side of the state.

      Generally there is no minamum wage involved this is piece work. There is a skill to picking fast ehough to make a chunk of money.

      The prices for much of the piece work hae been driven down so low it has become a losing proposition. I have known people in the past who made a living following piece work seasons just within the state and had to give it up because they could no longer make a living.

      Frankly being outside in Eastern Washington during this time of year would be a bonus not a deterent.

      It is the heart that makes a man rich. He is rich according to what he is not what he has -Henry Ward Beecher

      by PSWaterspirit on Wed Oct 03, 2012 at 07:38:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You are so wrong in your comments (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mookins, marina, skwimmer

        My husband, an orchardist, pays well over minimum wage (a dollar or dollar + over minimum wage) for all of his employees and gives them a bonus at the end of the season unless they are superior workers who he keeps on during the winter for pruning, etc.

        He does not pay for piecework, as then the apples and pears would be bruised beyond belief when they are dumped into bins. They are paid hourly.  

        He tried hiring white people from the unemployment office, but they often failed to show up or were on drugs.  Not just white people find the work too strenuous, though.  Some others just stop showing up after a day or two because they don't like climbing ladders up and down.  

        Most of the workers are obtained by word of mouth.  They carpool so the cost of gas is not excessive.

        The employer has to compete with winemakers, who may be able to pay more.  These are simultaneous harvests.  

        We do think a porous border is more helpful for agriculture.

        •  I would agree (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          marina, frosti

          People who operate a desk most of their lives cannot do this kind of work.

          Those of us who have picked fruit, hops, harvested potatoes in Eastern Washington as young people were paid by the piece at that time so that tends to be what we tell others. That is not to say, by the way, we didn't make money sometimes very good money depending on the crop. As with anything picking a given crop requires a certain set of skills to do it right and fast enough to make a decent wage. It can be very discouraging at first and the work very tough.

           I will spread the word to those who normally do construction for a living. It uses the same muscles they would probably dojust fine.

          It is the heart that makes a man rich. He is rich according to what he is not what he has -Henry Ward Beecher

          by PSWaterspirit on Wed Oct 03, 2012 at 09:45:47 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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