Engageny NY Chavez Module: Flesh Eating Rats? A Lesson In Scapegoating.

Please Read: Designed To Disturb  before reading this page.

Enagageny Education- Designed To Disturb

Enagageny Education- Designed To Disturb

In an attempt to portray the living conditions of farmworkers at the hands of mechanized farmers and to a degree… all white people , the Engageny lesson and Mr. Chavez paint a misleading picture for NY’s 7th grade 11 year old students:

 Today, thousands of farm workers live under savage conditions — beneath trees and amid garbage and human excrement — near tomato fields in San Diego County — tomato fields which use the most modern farm technology. Vicious rats gnaw on them as they sleep. They walk miles to buy food at inflated prices and they carry in water from irrigation pumps. – Caesar Chavez Commonwealth Club Address (underline by Whydad.net)


1985 – Former U.F.W. General Counsel Blames Chavez

“- during the past tomato season in northern San Diego County, hundreds of farm workers lived outside without adequate shelter or sanitation in a place called Devil’s Canyon. During the last strawberry harvest in Salinas, workers lived in caves within minutes of the UFW field office.”  “Only day-to-day organizing by the farm workers’ union can help these people assert their legal rights in an effective manner” 1985 Jerome Cohen  Former General Counsel UFW –   UFW Must Get Back to Organizing (underline by whydad.net)


What is really going on?

30 mile commutes, too many workers, not enough jobs

A search of the internet regarding these destitute tomato workers turns up two documents created for entirely different reasons. They discuss the conditions of the vast majority of tomato field workers who were –  working and living in San Diego County and also working in neighboring San Joaquin county:

#1 A 1975 document from a UFW organizer called “Declaration of Jim Drake“.  According to the declaration, the workers residences are scattered throughout hotels and homes in Stockton (A large nearby city) and as far away as 30 miles (Modesto)… At the time, Mr. Drake is not allowed on farms to organize and is having difficulty talking to workers in groups.

“At tomato fields, the workers park their cars all around the field, away from the public roads and exit the work site at a number of points.”  ” When they leave, as many as five hundred workers may exit in less than fifteen minutes.”

” In some cases, full bus loads of tomato workers leave from downtown Stockton on a day haul basis. These workers on any one bus may come from as many as ten hotels.”

#2 A 1985 UC Davis article titled “The fragmented California farm labor market” discusses agricultural trends from 1982-1985 and the living conditions of the Tomato workers near San Diego County:

“San Joaquin County produces about one-fourth of the state’s fresh tomatoes, and the demand for tomato harvesters peaks at 2,100 workers in September. Most pickers are Mexican or Mexican-American men, and most live in Stockton and nearby communities. Most are US. citizens or legal immigrants; only about 20 percent are illegal aliens. Tomato pickers are paid piece-rate at 40 cents for each 25-pound bucket, and most workers pick fast enough to average $5 to $10 hourly, and $4,000 to $6,000 for the three- to five-month season. Few employers provide voluntary fringe benefits such as off-the-job health insurance, but most harvesters obtain unemployment insurance benefits off-season. Many tomato picking crews are assembled by Stockton-area labor contractors, and during peak harvest periods the largest contractors may each have 400 to 500 workers on farms.”

To boil it down, California had too many people show up to for 2,100 jobs that were already filled. None of this information is provided to NY students to form a critical thought for a solution to a problem that exists in their own backyards.


San Diego Tomato Jobs

and NY’s Wealthy Commuter Towns Intersect

While the California 80’s  border issues are known, a smaller version of these issues has occurred on commuter rail towns in NY’s wealthy suburbs. In either case the trend is the same. An oversupply of labor enters a market and supplants the Americans doing those jobs. In California agriculture, a mainly Mexican immigration flow supplanted Americans of Mexican and Filipino descent. In NY, a largely Guatemalan population supplanted low skill people of every color, especially in food service, housing and the construction industries. As in both cases, you wind up with people living under trees and living in filth when there are not enough jobs.

Coincidentally, NY also had ” social justice activists” screaming racism for the lack of social services, deriding contractors/employers and generally blaming Republicans. To date, nobody has found a solution and everyone engages in finger pointing. In the end, many people who may have valid ideas remain silent out of fear of being negatively labeled by “civil rights” groups and progressives.

The people in this 2009 video are living in nearly identical conditions described in the Chavez speech. These people do not represent living conditions for the vast majority of migrant workers who live in apartments and houses around Brewster NY…  However, to a NY student, tomato farm workers live in squalor because of farmers and to some degree, modern farm equipment and white people:

Ironic reality?

The American children of the first wave of Guatemalan immigrants are likely to be just out of High School. They’ll need to compete with the unending flow of subsequent illegal immigrants. Their current low skill employment options to pay for school and or life are as limited as their American peers around them.

Related pages for the Engageny 7th grade Caesar Chavez Commonwealth speech :


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