By Ed Dalton
Migrant farm laborers are facing wage cuts as White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Agricultural Secretary Sonny Perdue seek to shift the weight of the economic crisis made worse by COVID-19 onto the backs of some of the most exploited and downtrodden workers.The Trump administration closed Mexican Consulates preventing temporary workers from receiving visas, creating a shortage in the workforce. This shortage has provided conditions for Meadows and Perdue to begin discussing how to slash wages.
Many agricultural laborers are undocumented while others are foreign guests, unable to receive federal aid or welfare during the crisis. The reactionaries’ plot is to save money for the landowners affected by the economic crisis and the subsequent pandemic by robbing the workers with more exploitation.
The US is home to about 2.5 million agricultural workers, who have been deemed an “essential service.” About 10% of these workers are “seasonal guests” and not citizens, which already forces them to face poverty and poor working conditions with little recourse. The ruling class claims their backward measures, which are a reversal of the hard-earned gains of agricultural workers, are to ensure that grocery stores remain stocked. What they fail to mention is that this could be accomplished with hazard pay for the workers and a loss of profit for the owners, however that would only be possibleif this was a system based on human need rather than private profits.
The ultra-reactionary Donald Trump has already awarded over $16 billion in relief funds to the land owners and now seeks to increase their profits even more, leaving little doubt who is expected to foot the bill: tax payers and the working class, specifically the disadvantaged, heroic, and hardworking agricultural laborers.
Imperialism is reaction all along the line, it creates the impoverished conditions that force migrant workers to seek jobs outside of their home countries, it robs them blind, and now it seeks to lower their wages, with an additional risk to their health and worsening work conditions.
As the landowners begin to feel the effects of the New Depression, caused not by the Coronavirus but by overproduction, they will inflict merciless blows against the workers. The unions loyal to landowners and the ruling class have even confirmed that the agricultural workers are not being provided with basic sanitary precautions such as the ability to wash their hands.
As the economic crisis ripens into the New Depression, workers must harvest once again, one of their most vital crops, that of the labor strike; they have more leverage than they may realize.