The honorables in Raleigh are hard at work this week, sweating like field workers to do the people’s business. In what some might call a legislative breakthrough, they are pulling out the stops to give migrant laborers all the comforts of home as they work to pick the food you and I eat every day.
A bill making its way through the legislature would begin to change some of the state’s farmworker housing standards. The bill, which has the support of farm groups and advocates for workers, would add new housing inspectors and force more checks at problem farms, while requiring fewer checks at farms that consistently exceed standards.
The only change in what farmers must provide: every worker would be the guarantee of a mattress.
The groups that advocate for migrant workers have been reduced in North Carolina to accepting diddly-squat in their lobbying and public outreach efforts. It’s a sad commentary on the whole miserable state of our economy and our culture when the leading supporters of those oppressed have this to say:
“We’re looking at this as a good first step,” said Carol Brooke, a lawyer with the Justice Center, a Raleigh-based nonprofit that advocates for farmworkers. “The idea was to get this issue in the public eye.”
A good first step? I suppose that’s one way to look at it.
I’m not dissing the Justice Center, not one bit. Those guys do god’s work against all the odds you can imagine and then some. But because they don’t represent rich white guys, almost nobody in the legislature actually cares what they have to say.
So rest assured, the honorables will pat themselves on the back because they took the big bold step of giving migrant workers a bunch of crappy mattresses. And we’ll keep getting cheap food.