UnNews:Georgia pushes farm work to beat unemployment
4 June 2011
ATLANTA, Georgia -- Nathan Deal, the governor of Georgia, has a very simple solution to his state's high unemployment problem; work on the farm.
"We still have an unemployment level here that is unacceptably high," Deal said in a recent press conference on the steps of the Georgia Capitol Building, "but we also have many vacancies left open by departing immigrants that need filling. I don't see why we can't fill these jobs with people who have lost theirs in the recent recession."
With an unemployment rate of 9.6%, 8th highest in the nation and 1.2% over the national average, the state government of Georgia had been scrambling for months to find a place to put these unfortunate citizens currently on the dole. Only after creating a stringent immigration law, inspired by the one now in place in Arizona and allowing law enforcement officials to identify and detain illegal immigrants, did they find a place for these out-of-luck workers.
"And we even did it at the expense of immigrants," Deal had boasted with a huge grin, "I mean duh, winning!"
With immigrants now avoiding the state of Georgia for fear of being deported, nearly a million jobs have opened up, enough to almost completely satisfy the state's unemployment problem. However, there have been problems.
"No one will take them," a confused Deal lamented. "I don't get it. We have people out of work. Now we have jobs open. How is this not working?"
We spoke to Pickers Union leader Julio Vargas, who told us what the issue might be.
"American workers are not willing to do this farm work. They do not like the 12-hour days, the sore bones and muscles from bending over all the time, the blisters on the hands from the picking. They do not like the hot sun, the heavy lifting, the no breaks. They do not like the wages of 80 cent an hour. They do not want the work."
Recently laid-off technical analyst Daniel Hanson agrees.
"I tried it. I went down to the tomato farm and put my name down. I went out and picked for over three hours. I couldn't do any more than that. I hurt so bad, I was so sunburned, I'd cut my thumb on a stick. So I brought back my bucket and got a quarter. A fucking quarter. For three hours out there. That wasn't work, that was slavery. I actually renounced my KKK membership that night because what we did to those poor folks was wrong, just wrong."
Deal, however, doesn't get it.
"You go out in the field and you pick some tomatoes. What's so hard about that? I do it all the time in my garden. I like it; it's easy and it relaxes me. I don't see what the issue is."
The unemployed state citizens, however, do see the issue, and only 6 have taken jobs in the fields to replace the missing immigrants, whose absence leaves the average farm with only half the workers needed to get the crops in. Much of Georgia's $1.1 billion fruit and vegetable business is expected to spoil on the ground without these positions being filled, and this could raise prices of food dramatically, putting an extra strain on the already reeling mass of unemployed in the state.
"We need these illegal immigrants," one Georgian lawmaker insisted, "Without them, peppers will cost a nickel more than normal, and we can't have that."
- John Sepulvado "To address unemployment, Georgia governor proposes farm work." CNN, June 3, 2011
- Mike Pearson "Georgia immigration reform bill stresses growers." CNN, May 31, 2011