Stephen Colbert and United Farm Workers team up to challenge Americans: Come on, take our jobs

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Colbert

In a tongue-in-cheek call for immigration reform, farmworkers are teaming up with comedian Stephen Colbert to challenge unemployed Americans: Come on, take our jobs. Immigrant farmworkers' challenge: Take our jobs – El Paso Times

Farmworkers are tired of being blamed by politicians and anti-immigrant activists for taking work that should go to Americans and dragging down the economy, said Arturo Rodriguez, the president of the United Farmworkers of America.

So the group is encouraging the unemployed — and any Washington pundits or anti-immigrant activists who want to join them — to apply for some of thousands of agricultural jobs being posted with state agencies as harvest season begins.

All applicants need to do is fill out an online form under the banner "I want to be a farm worker" at www.takeourjobs.org, and experienced field hands will train them and connect them to farms.

According to the Labor Department, three out of four farmworkers were born abroad, and more than half are undocumented immigrants.

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Those who have done the jobs have some words of advice for applicants: First, dress appropriately.

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Second, expect long days. Growers have a small window to pick fruit before it is overripe.

And don't count on a big paycheck. Farmworkers are excluded from federal overtime provisions, and small farms don't even have to pay the minimum wage. Fifteen states don't require farm labor to be covered by workers' compensation laws.

Any takers?

"The reality is farmworkers who are here today aren't taking any American jobs away. They work in often unbearable situations," Rodriguez said. "I don't think there will be many takers, but the offer is being made. Let's see what happens."

To highlight how unlikely the prospect of Americans lining up to pick strawberries or grapes, Comedy Central's "Colbert Report" plans to feature the "Take Our Jobs" campaign on July 8.

For more information: www.takeourjobs.org

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