Eighty Years After Jim Crow, New York Farm Workers Still Fighting for Rights

Each year a dozen or so workers ride trains and board buses to the farms on which they will die.

Thousands more take the same path to less tragic ends. They are the luckier ones, instead toiling for hour upon hour in the hot summer sun for a meager paycheck, ripe for exploitation and powerless to abuses both small and large, spoken and not.

It's a story Dolores Bustamente knows well: A decade ago she left behind her housekeeping job and two of her four children in Mexico to pick oranges and strawberries in Florida, moving on to North Carolina after a few years and eventually arriving at Teeple Farms in Wayne County, east of Rochester.

 

For three years the 50-year-old has picked Empire State apples without the worries of wage theft or intimidation that once loomed over her daily work. It's a physically demanding job, but the hours make it easier to raise her daughters, and for the first time since leaving Mexico Dolores isn't afraid to tell her boss when she's tired or feels she's working in dangerous conditions.

Read the entire article featuring grantee Worker's Center of Central New York here.