Forty years after Harvest of Shame, Edward R. Murrrow’s great documentary on the exploitation of migrant workers, the shame endures. Now overwhelmingly Spanish-speaking, the nation’s estimated 1.5 million farmworkers, are the most vulnerable laborers in the U.S. federal legislation excludes them from many rights most other workers have, such as a minimum wage, overtime pay and the ability to engage in collective bargaining.
North Carolina farmworkers are currently in the spotlight. An estimated 100,000 migrant workers are brought to the state each year to pick cucumbers, sweet potatoes, watermelons and tobacco on 22,000 farms. An organizing effort by the Toledo-based Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) includes a boycott of Mt. Olive Pickle Company, the Southeast’s largest pickle producer.