Sun blazing scorching your skin, stormy rain bringing sickness, and freezing temperature making breathing difficult, these are some of the things that farm workers face each and every day of their lives. Constant pain on every inch of your body for a laughable wage, and harsh treatment from farm owners are just a few experiences that farm labor workers have gone through for the betterment of this country. So that people could eat their fruits and vegetables, so that they can eat their gourmet meals, so that they could enjoy various tasting wines, while in that process the actual persons who pick these crops don’t even have enough to support their own families. I would like to talk about one such farm labor family and their experience through their most difficult times in their lives.
In the 20th century large farm growers owned thousands of acres of land and they needed a large number of labor workers to plant and pick. A lot of the farm workers had came from foreign countries such as; India, China, Japan, the Philippines, and Mexico. In 1954, the Garza family was just returning from a long summer of migrant farm working in California, Oregon, and Michigan, they are headed home to Harlingen, Texas. Valentine and Augustina Garza with their young daughter Mary had been doing this since 1951. Mary says, “Ever since I could remember, we had always done field work”. Entire families went on these work journeys, young children to elderly people had to work hard just to survive. In 1960, the Garzas moved to Fresno, California, because at that time the wages here in Fresno was more than the wages they were giving in Texas. Here they stayed and lived with Valentine’s cousin, the Garcia family. The Garcia family were also farm labor workers and they traveled up and down the San Joaquin Valley for work.
There were two ways of getting paid to do field work; contract or hourly. Contract meant that workers get paid base on the amount of production they can supply, in other words, for every tray of grapes you picked is equal to $0.06. So if a worker picked 100 trays, then they will receive $6.00 for it. If the grower pays by the hour then the amount is not that...