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Ghostworkers and GreensThe Cooperative Campaigns of Farmworkers and Environmentalists for Pesticide Reform$
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Adam Tompkins

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780801456688

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801456688.001.0001

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Hidden Hands of the Harvest

Hidden Hands of the Harvest

(p.25) 2 Hidden Hands of the Harvest
Ghostworkers and Greens

Adam Tompkins

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines the growth of a large marginalized, often migratory, workforce that was systematically disempowered by growers and government: the farmworkers. The modernization and professionalization of agriculture reshaped many farm owners’ thinking about labor and production. Beginning in the twentieth century, multitudes of migrant laborers shouldered the burden of work on large farms that used to be handled by families and local hired hands. This chapter considers how farm owners, acting in concert with the government, denied farmworkers political power in order to maintain a cheap and plentiful supply of agricultural labor. It argues that farmworkers, who acted as the “hidden” hands of the harvest, fell out of view of the public eye and did not benefit from the protection of the growing body of labor laws introduced in the mid-twentieth century. It shows how farmworkers sought allies outside of the agricultural industry in their pesticide reform campaigns.

Keywords:   growers, farmworkers, agriculture, farm owners, migrant laborers, agricultural labor, labor laws, pesticide reform

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