Farmworkers to Colbert Nation: “Take our jobs”


United Farm Worker President Arturo S. Rodriguez will appear on Stephen Colbert's "The Colbert Report" July 8 on Comedy Central at 11:30 p.m. Eastern, as part of a national "Take Our Jobs" campaign.

UFW aims to recruit unemployed U.S. citizens and legal residents to fill vacant jobs in agriculture where undocumented workers are the overwhelming majority.

While the show is sure to be a riot, the campaign is no laughing matter, says UFW.

Launched by UFW the campaign is a response to those who continue to blame undocumented workers as the country's unemployment problem. However it's precisely undocumented farm workers that continue to supply the food most Americans eat.

Rather than target undocumented farmworkers for the country's economic concerns, let's recruit unemployed U.S. citizens and legal residents to replace the tens of thousands of immigrant field laborers, UFW leaders say.

All who are interested or unemployed are encouraged to apply at:

There is an ongoing need for immigrant labor in the U.S., says UFW. Eighty-five percent of all crop workers in American agriculture are foreign born.

"We are a nation in denial about where our food supply comes from," said Diana Tellefson, UFW's national vice-president.

She notes during hard economic times as of late, anxiety brings out the worst in people who in turn blame undocumented workers for problems created by Wall Street.

"It's time for an honest debate about high unemployment and undocumented people in the workforce," she said.

"It's time to recognize that the food we all eat - at home, in restaurants and workplace cafeterias including those in the nations Capitol - comes from the sweat and labor of undocumented workers."

Tellefson added those who want to deport the country's estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants would destroy the current agricultural industry.

Since the late 1990s, at least 50 percent of the crop workers have not been authorized to work legally in the country.

"So we're opening it up and asking lawmakers and those who lament about immigrants to send us workers from their districts to take on the agricultural work," said Tellefson.

"It's on them. If they are going to complain that undocumented workers take American jobs then find us workers to sign up to work on the farms."

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics working in the agricultural farm fields is one of the top 10 most dangerous in the nation.

Tellefson says it's not right when she hears people say the workers who help feed American families across the nation don't have a right to live and work here.

The appearance of Rodriguez on the Colbert show is an opportunity for UFW to generate public interest in the "Take Our Jobs" effort.

It's also a way to urge Congress to fix the broken immigration system and pass the bipartisan AgJobs bill that UFW has negotiated with growers in the industry over the last decade, said Tellefson.

The measure would give undocumented farmworkers currently here and their family members the right to earn legal status by continuing to work in agriculture.

It's an earned path to citizenship that will also provide more stability and accountability and give farm workers the means to speak up for their rights, says Tellefson.

"It's incredibly important because it also works toward implementing better working conditions for farm workers and really all workers," she said.

Tellefson says the Colbert Report contacted UFW who pitched the campaign to the producers and they loved it.

"We're very excited for the opportunity and it's a good way to confront the reality of the dire situation using humor," she says.

Passing comprehensive immigration reform is key because granting legal status to immigrant workers can only benefit our country economically as a whole, she adds.

"There is a lot of work to be done," says Tellefson.

Currently there are over 27,000 members in the UFW.


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  • I hope that every American, regardless of where he lives, will stop and examine his conscience about this and other related incidents. This Nation was founded by men of many nations and backgrounds. It was founded on the principle that all men are created equal, and that the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened. All of us ought to have the right to be treated as he would wish to be treated, as one would wish his children to be treated, but this is not the case.

    I know the proponents of this law say that the majority approves of this law, but the majority is not always right. Would women or non-whites have the vote if we listen to the majority of the day, would the non-whites have equal rights (and equal access to churches, housing, restaurants, hotels, retail stores, schools, colleges and yes water fountains) if we listen to the majority of the day? We all know the answer, a resounding, NO!

    As for the undocumented workers, as was attributed to Ronald Reagan “It’s the Economy, Stupid”. When the economy is good you say let’s all celebrate “Cinco de Mayo, my brothers” but when the economy is down “it’s all your fault, you damn immigrant”. This too will pass, the real problem is the narcos, arms and people smugglers and that’s what the focus should be on.

    Today we are committed to a worldwide struggle to promote and protect the rights of all who wish to be free. In a time of domestic crisis men of good will and generosity should be able to unite regardless of party or politics and do what is right, not what is just popular with the majority. Some men comprehend discrimination by never have experiencing it in their lives, but the majority will only understand after it happens to them.

    Posted by Benito, 07/21/2010 8:14pm (5 years ago)

  • This is already happening. There's more than one way to be an illegal worker.

    In Maine, a common crime is Theft of Blueberries, which is hard work. It involves stealing into the commercial barrens at night and raking the fields, just like doing a job. But then carting off the fruit to sell it, instead of giving it to the grower and accepting a wage.

    The people who do this would seem to have stolen their jobs back, and the product along with it.

    Posted by Trailer Trash, 07/09/2010 4:09pm (5 years ago)

  • It's pretty obvious that corporations kill jobs, not immigrants.

    Posted by Joel, 07/09/2010 11:42am (5 years ago)

  • Work Visa.

    It is a different day and age where this nation has to 'watch it's back door' for potential foreign and domestic enemies.

    Posted by aaabbb, 07/08/2010 11:59pm (5 years ago)

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