As I was doing research over the weekend, I read a New York Times story with a dateline of Los Angeles, August 12, 1950. Here is the lead:
Much of the economic distress among seasonal farm workers results from a concerted, long-term effort by big "corporation farms," particularly in California, to keep wages at rock bottom by the use of foreign labor, the President's Commission on Migratory Labor was told today.
Last week the NPR program "On Point" discussed a similar situation during a program that was billed as a look at the current "Depression-era levels" of unemployment among African-Americans.
The program included an exchange between guest host Tom Gjelten and a South Carolina woman named Marsha, whom the "On Point" website describes as a "particularly poignant caller." It begins as she talks about the reaction of men who are turned away from the worksite:
MARSHA: They come back in a tizzy because the supervisors won't hire 'em. They say they cost too much.
GJELTEN: And you say that a lot of the jobs are going to Hispanics. Are you saying that the Hispanic workers are willing to work for less? What's the dynamic there you're talking about?
MARSHA: That I truly believe because we have about 4 or 5 different, large projects going on in Florence, South Carolina. And one of them is modernizing, expanding on our McLeod hospital. They have this huge project goin' on. And they went, they applied, and they were told as usual, you know, "You cost too much." So I had to go to McLeod, so I would go be nosy. So I walked around the building site and looked at the people who were working, and they was all Hispanic! And all of 'em speaking Spanish to each other.