“A Story of Exploitation and Extreme Hardship”

The Los Angeles Times is publishing a four-part exposé about brutal conditions endured by farm workers in Mexico. One of the articles profiles Bioparques de Occidente, a company that has supplied tomatoes to outlets such as Walmart, Safeway, and Albertons:

“At the labor camp for Bioparques de Occidente, they and other farmworkers slept sprawled head to toe on concrete floors. Their rooms crawled with scorpions and bedbugs. Meals were skimpy, hunger a constant. Camp bosses kept people in line with threats and, when that failed, with their fists.

“Escape was tempting but risky. The compound was fenced with barbed wire and patrolled by bosses on all-terrain vehicles. If the couple got beyond the gates, local police could arrest them and bring them back. Then they would be stripped of their shoes.”

Putting Down Roots

Willy Blackmore explains what President Obama’s executive action means for farmworkers, about half of whom are undocumented immigrants:

“Lacking legal status makes what is already a thankless, underpaid job even more troubling for immigrants. Ag laborers are regularly subjected to wage theft, chemical exposure, unsafe working conditions, sexual harassment, and other horrendous workplace conditions. But when management can threaten an employee with deportation, any complaints are easily tamped down.

“So not only will the president’s executive action help to change some of those family narratives; it could make the working lives of those 250,000-some farmworkers just that much more tolerable.”