NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — Facing growing anti-immigrant rhetoric, the United Farm Workers union is challenging Americans to take their labor-intensive, low-paying farm jobs.
As communities nationwide grapple with tenacious unemployment, migrant workers are often accused of stealing jobs from Americans. The union believes this accusation is without basis, and intends to demonstrate this with a newly-launched campaign called "Take Our Jobs."
"Farm workers do the work that most Americans are not willing to do," said union president Arturo Rodriguez in the announcement of the campaign.
At least half a million applicants are needed to replace the immigrant workforce, so the union has posted an online application for Americans who want to work on a farm.
Through its Web site, at www.takeourjobs.org, the union promises to connect applicants with farm jobs in their area.
Since June 24, at least 4,000 people have responded to the application, said Rodriguez. Some are serious responses and others are hate mail. "Only a few dozen have really followed through with the process," he said.
Most applicants quickly lose interest once the reality sinks in that these are back-breaking jobs in triple-digit temperatures that pay minimum wage, usually without benefits, according to the union. Some small farms are not required to pay minimum wage and in 15 states farms aren’t required to offer workers’ compensation.
Despite the dismal job market in the U.S., where the unemployment rate is 9.5% and 14.6 million people are out of work, there have been few takers.