Monday, April 3, 2006
In the list of jobs immigrants perform that no U.S. citizen wants,
sheepherding must rank near the top. The 825 or so sheepherders who
work the nation's sheep farms -- mostly in California, Texas and
Wyoming -- are immigrants here on H-2A visas from Peru, Chile, Bolivia
and Mexico, according to the Western Range Association, an industry
Today's Washington Post has more on the plight on these forgotten laborers:
The seven sheepherders were eating lunch in a trailer with no toilet, heat or water, its leaky roof held down by a rope.
A lunch break, especially one together, was a rare event. But they were celebrating, sort of. Lambing season was ending. That's when the ewes give birth and the sheepherders who come to this country on three-year work visas put in their hardest 12- to 16-hour days, seven days a week.
Still, the sheepherders were steeling themselves for spring. From late March until fall, sheepherding is almost unbearably lonely. Each herder is driven deep into pastures far from town or even a paved road. For weeks on end, he sees no one but the boss, and rarely does he have a cellphone or radio.
Gee, and you thought working at Wal-Mart was bad.
More seriously, it is amazing that there are still workers in this country who must work under these inhumane conditions (91% don't have working toilets, some live in plywood trailers of 7 by 10 feet, and pay is infrequent at best).
State legislatures need to act to protect these workers and now.