Filmmaker: Harvey Richards • Publisher: Estuary Press
The Harvesters documents late 1950’s farm labor conditions in California’s fields when 14 to 16 hour days paid workers at eighty-five cents to a dollar per hour. Featuring photography of many different crops grown throughout the state, it focuses on how the bracero program imported Mexican nationals to work at lower wages than the sub-minimum rates available to American workers. This film was used by the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC) and the United Packinghouse Workers Union to help in their organizing efforts. In the years from 1958 to1960, farm workers still faced bracero labor competition which limited their power to win the right to unionize. In the fields, hand labor was loosing ground to mechanized methods of harvesting, while packing operations were moving from the packing houses to the fields. The Harvesters highlighted these two great obstacles to farm worker unionization, braceros and mechanization, while pointing out the similarities to urban factory labor where the right to form a union was protected by the National Labor Relations Act, from which farm workers were excluded.