III. Puerto Ricans on Contract

September 25, 2007

Puerto Rico is second only to Mexico as a source of cheap imported labor for U.S. growers; and on the East Coast it is unrivaled. Unlike Mexicans, however, Puerto Ricans need not worry about quotas or deportations. For Puerto Ricans are "citizens" of the country that has relegated their own to the status of a colony. In the eyes of the U.S. Department of Labor and the INS, they are considered "domestic workers." The Puerto Rican Employment Service is an affiliate of the U.S. Employment Service, and Puerto Rican workers are referred to as "inter-state migrants," not "illegals." Many thousands of Puerto Rican migrants (estimates vary between 60,000 and 200,000) work in U.S. agriculture each year. Some come independently in search of work, while others are recruited on the island by private agencies, crew leaders or growers. Such recruitment is illegal under Puerto Rican law, however, unless a written contract is first negotiated between the Puerto Rican Secretary of Labor and U.S. growers. This contract program was instituted by the Commonwealth Government in the late 1940's, to govern the recruitment and employment of workers in mainland agriculture. Over the past 27 years, more than 350,000 Puerto Rican contract workers have been employed in the harvests of 22 states: peaches in South Carolina, apples in Vermont, shade tobacco in Connecticut, vegetables in New Jersey and so on. I The Puerto Rican program is- similar in many respects to the West Indian contract system. It offers many of the same advantages that accrue to growers under any system of contract labor: pre-selection of the work force, virtual immunity from unionization and, above all, a contract negotiated not by the workers themselves but by parties with their own particular interests to uphold. The number of West Indian contract workers in the United States has remained steady since 1960 and growers are demanding the program's expansion if Carter's immigration bills become law. In contrast, the Puerto Rican program entered a phase of steady decline in the 1970's that shows no signs of reversing itself. In its peak years (1967-69), the Puerto Rican program brought more than 21,000 workers to the mainland each year. In the early 1970's, a yearly average of less than 12,000 workers arrived. Since 1975, the number has barely stayed above 5,000 (See Table). For many growers, the advantages of the Puerto Rican program are outweighed by its disadvantages in relation to other sources. Like West Indians, contract workers from Puerto Rico constitute an assured supply of cheap labor, "delivered" on a specific date and "shipped out" when they are no longer needed. But the fact remains that the Puerto Rican program affords the growers less control over the work force than its West Indian counterpart. The intimidation tactics used by growers to fight wage demands and unionization, and to squeeze productivity gains from West Indian workers, are less effective. The difference is not racial or national, as racist stereotyping by growers and the media would have us believe. Rather, the difference stems from the politico-legal status of West Indians, as deportable when troublesome, and of Puerto Ricans, as colonized "citizens." UnlikeJamaican cane-cutters, for example, Puerto Rican workers can break the contract without facing deportation. (They do take a severe financial loss, however, by forfeiting reimbursement of transportation costs and other so-called "bonuses.") Not only can they stay on the mainland, but they can "legally" attempt to find jobs in industry or services, or apply for welfare, food stamps and the like. In other words, as colonized workers, Puerto Ricans are paradoxically too "domestic" to present the same advantages as the H-2 contract workers. 19 Nov. I Dec. 197720 NACLA Report Growers chorus their complaints about the Puerto Rican contract program: high turnover, low productivity, frequent lawsuits and unsuccessful but ominous attempts at unionization. They maintain that the terms of the contract are "onerous" and increasingly costly. And they are unanimous in their acclaim of West Indians as "docile and diligent." But we have seen that current legislation puts limits on the growers' ability to obtain foreign contract labor. One New Jersey grower, an employer of Puerto Rican contract labor for over 20 years, said he would give his right eye for Jamaicans, but the bureaucracy would not let him have any. Growers that have traditionally relied upon contract workers from Puerto Rico are hoping that the legislation will change. Some have turned to other sources of labor in the interim-high- school students, housewives and day-haulers. Others have switched to crops that can be mechanically harvested. And still others are making the most out of the Puerto Rican program--bargaining with the Commonwealth Government to erode the benefits that workers are entitled to under the contract. Growers that employ contract workers from the West Indies are fighting to keep that work force, and avoid hiring thousands of unemployed domestic workers and especially the thousands of Puerto Rican workers that the Commonwealth Government is prepared to send on a moment's notice. In what follows, we shall examine first the Puerto Rican contract program in and of itself. The degree to which the written contract offers adequate protection to workers and the degree to which its terms are actually enforced by the Commonwealth Government are hotly debated by advocates and critics of the program. The claims of the program's administrators will be compared to the actual conditions confronted by workers in the fields. Part II will focus on the current competition between the West Indian and Puerto Rican programs, and the efforts of apple growers in the eastern states to keep their supply of H-2 contract laborers. BARGAINING FROM WEAKNESS Once a year, the Puerto Rican Secretary of Labor sits down with U.S. growers to negotiate the terms of a standardized "Agricultural Agreement between Employers and Puerto Rican Agricultural Workers." Like their West Indian neighbors, Puerto Rican workers have no say whatsoever in negotiating the terms of their own employment. The underlying assumption of this process is that workers' interests are adequately represented by the Commonwealth Government. Indeed, Commonwealth officials view the program as roughly equivalent to the functions of a labor union, and as filling a vacuum left by the lack of unionization in the fields. But how able a negotiator can the Puerto Rican government afford to be? One of the major problems facing the Government of Puerto Rico today, and one of the major threats to the island's political balance, is a soaring rate of unemployment. Nearly 46% of the island's labor force is either completely inactive (34%) or under- utilized (12%).2 The problem is not a new one. It has plagued government planners since the early 1940's and consistently outpaced their efforts to create more jobs by stimulating foreign investment. Fomento, the government's program for rapid industrialization, created thousands of jobs in the 1940's and 1950's by offering generous tax incentives to industry and by promoting the island's abundant supply of cheap labor. But thousands of jobs disappeared as well, in the traditional craft industries and especially in agriculture. As farm land was taken over by industry and its accompanying needs, agricultural employment in Puerto Rico plummetted from 200,000 in 1940 to 17,000 in 1977.s In the 1960's and 1970's, unemployment has continued to rise. Labor-intensive industries have abandoned the island in search of still cheaper labor in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, et al. Capital entering the island's economy today gravitates toward highly capital-intensive sectors such as petrochemicals and chemicals employing relatively few workers. According to the Planning Board of Puerto Rico, 103,500 new jobs were created between 1941 and 1971, but over twice that number were lost during the same interval. 4 The government's failure to create enough jobs 20 NACLA ReportNov. I Dec.1977 21 PUERTO RICAN CONTRACT WORKERS IN THE UNITED STATES BY STATE, 1960-1977* TOTAL NJ NY Penn. Del. Md. Conn.Mass. NH RI Mich. Ohio SC other 1960 12,986 6,852 1,003 914 1,122 194 2,207 480 82 - 16 7 - 109 1961 13,765 6,749 1,698 913 1,294 254 2.089 567 89 11 - 6 - 95 1962 13,526 8,347 1,502 693 298 186 1,885 452 88 5 12 - - 58 1963 13,116 8,022 1,475 416 368 106 1,832 409 51 20 383 - - 34 1964 14,628 9,201 1,677 107 346 177 2,042 460 43 16 333 - - 226 1965 17,385 10,095 1,577 138 314 30 3,245 423 38 16 613 - - 906 1966 19,537 9,812 2,301 219 366 50 5,618 447 33 28 498 158 - 7 1967 21,648 9,388 3,471 140 1,677 6 5,684. 450 41 36 51 333 - 369 1968 -------------------------------------.................................................. NOT AVAILABL E...................--------------------------------------------------- 1969 21,862 9,463 2,188 655 1,832 311 6,113 486 54 105 121 299 192 43 1970 18,884 8,770 1,735 512 1,786 114 4,928 487 23 95 46 171 180 37 1971 14,119 6,836 1,237 151 1,543 68 3,669 397 20 61 16 - 94 27 1972 11,900 5,158 957 99 1,691 79 3,351 284 19 81 - - 129 52 1973 14,641 6,255 1,375 134 1,634 114 4,337 289 27 92 - - 304 80 1974 12,760 5,112 1,156 134 1,543 51 4,111 162 14 93 - - 311 73 1975 5,639 3,398 743 112 1,077 - - 108 81 63 - - 52 5 1976 5,251 2,208 908 118 1,242 1 - 190 7 30 - - 280 101 1977 4,191 2,020 773 113 896 15 - 51 36 - - - 258 29 Source: Migration Division, Department of Labor, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Cumulative Weekly Reports of Arrivals. has meant greater emphasis on efforts to reduce the demand for employment by reducing the growth rate of the working class. Unemployment, an inherent feature of capitalist development, is masked in Puerto Rico as a simple problem of over-population by the ideologues of colonial rule. The fruits of the government's efforts to reduce the demand for jobs in the short and long term can be summed up by two statistics: (1) one-third of all Puerto Rican women of child-bearing age have been sterilized; and (2) one-third of the Puerto Rican population has emigrated to the United States. 6 Emigration has clearly been the short-term savior of political stability on the island. A 1973 "Report to the Governor of Puerto Rico" concluded that "during the three decades (1941-71) in which the greatest push was made to create new jobs, emigration to the United States has had a far greater impact on unemployment." More emphatically, the Report states that "emigration of the unemployed...has constituted the escape valve that has prevented unemployment from reaching catastrophic proportions." 7 How does all this affect the bargaining position of the Puerto Rican government vis- a-vis U.S. growers? A government that is dependent upon emigration as an escape valve for social tensions can hardly afford to alienate the prospective employers of Puerto Rican migrants. Growers are keenly aware of this contradiction and exploit it skillfully. They can threaten to switch sources or threaten to mechanize if the Commonwealth attempts to drive a hard bargain. The government's bargaining strength has been further eroded in the 1970's as economic recession in the United States has increased the unemployment rate among Puerto Ricans residing on the mainland. Many have returned to the island rather than be unemployed in a foreign and often hostile environment. Net emigration from Puerto Rico averaged 44,000 per year in the 1950's, and 15,000 per year in the 1960's. 8 Net immigration characterizes the 1970's. An average of 37,000 per year returned to Puerto Rico between 1972 and 1976.9 ON PAPER AND IN PRACTICE "Our contract is in the vanguard of rights and benefits offered to farmworkers." 1 0 This is the opinion of officials at Puerto Rico's Migration Division in New York, responsible for administering the contract program on the mainland. If one compares the contract to the protections afforded to U.S. farmworkers by state and federal regulations, their statement is depressingly accurate. However, many of the contract's most positive provisions are systematically violated by growers. And the Puerto Rican Government, guided by its overriding need to keep the migrant stream flowing, has made only token efforts to enforce them. The contract program is governed by Puerto Rican Law No. 87 , passed by the legislature in 1962, to regulate the recruitment and contracting of domestic and farm laborers whose services are to be used outside the boundaries of Puerto Rico. It grants the Puerto Rican Secretary of Labor the authority to establish minimum requirements that must be met by all employers. For example, all contracts must stipulate wage rates, hours, discharge procedures, housing standards, transportation arrangements and food costs. They must all contain a guarantee of income for the worker, insurance coverage, record-keeping provisions and guarantees against discrimination and against reprisal for exercising the right to form, join or assist a labor organization." The content of these provisions changes from year to year, and varies according to region and crop. Here, let us examine the contract that governs the employment of Puerto Rican contract workers in New Jersey. 12 The major employer in that state is the Glassboro Service Association (GSA), representing more than 200 growers and accounting for 50% of all workers referred to the mainland. Workers recruited by Glassboro are taken to its central labor camp, originally built as a detention camp in World War II. From there, they are distributed to individual growers. Wages: In the 1977 contract negotiated with the Glassboro Service Association, wages were set at $2.55 an hour, only five cents above the minimum wage for farmworkers set by the state of New Jersey. However, most workers are paid piece rates that they have no voice in setting. The contract stipulates that piece rates must yield at least the equivalent of the hourly rate, or the difference must be paid by the grower at the end of each pay period. Workers say this difference is never even calculated, much less paid. Unlike current contracts negotiated by the United Farm Workers, the Puerto Rican contract contains no provisions for sick pay or overtime pay. It simply states that workers may be required to work 8-hour days and 6- day weeks, and may "consent" to work for longer. Guaranteed Income: One of the contract's more positive provisions is one of its least respected. A guaranteed income clause stipulates that the employer must guarantee the worker 160 hours of work in each successive four-week period, or a sum not less than $400.00 (i.e., the hourly rate x 160). According to Michael Berger, of the Farm Workers Rights Project in New Jersey, payment of the difference between guaranteed earnings and actual earnings presupposes an accurate system of record-keeping, with itemized information on hours worked, pieces picked per day, etc. But according to a recent court suit against the Glassboro Service Association, such records-which are required by the Puerto Rican contract -have not been kept, much less made available to workers. "The Glassboro Service Association has no system or procedure designed for calculating and paying any wages pursuant to the guarantee." is Insurance: The contract provides for workers' compensation insurance at no cost to the worker and for non-occupational disability insurance paid for by workers' and growers' contributions to the Puerto Rican Agricultural Workers Insurance Fund. Until only last year, however, growers sat on the board of trustees of the Insurance Fund and owned the hospitals that submitted claims to this fund! When a suit was filed charging conflict of interest, the growers were finally removed from the board. 14 A constant complaint among workers is the poor medical care they receive from doctors on the growers' payroll. At the Glassboro infirmary, owned and operated by the Glassboro Service Association, it is always in the growers' interest to get the worker back to the fields as soon as possible, irrespective of the ailment.  Complaint Procedure: Until 1975, the Puerto Rican contract did not contain a complaint procedure, and the one that currently exists has been described by legal experts as "futile and illusory." 5 According to the contract, the regional office of the Puerto Rican Migration Division must make a record of all complaints, 'notify the employer and "investigate the complaint as quickly as possible." According to lawyers at Puerto Rican Migrant Legal Services, however, hundreds of complaints are never even recorded. And the investigations that are carried out bear little resemblance to an objective determination of the facts. Officials of the Migration Division simply send a complaint form to the employer -presumably the target of such an investigation--and ask the employer to verify the complaint. In most New Jersey cases, for example, the "verifier" is Mr. Joseph Garofalo, General Manager of the Glassboro Service Association. Officials of the Puerto Rican Labor Department admitted in court testimony that this is the procedure followed in most investigations: Mr. Falcon admitted on cross-examination that Mr. Garofalo completes the section of the complaint form titled "finding of fact".... There is no hearing conducted by the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. There is no testimony taken. The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico does not even contact the worker to contravene the findings of Mr. Garofalo. The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico merely relies on the facts as stated by the Glassboro Service Association to decide the complaint. 16 A worker dissatisfied with these findings may reauest that his case be reviewed. But the 4 23 Qi IlNACLA Report another, like traded cattle. Theoretically, these workers do not have far to travel to register their complaints. They need only go to the office of the Commonwealth representative - conveniently located inside the Glassboro Service Association headquarters at the camp. But workers have grown impatient with what they describe as an indifferent attitude toward their problems, long bureaucratic tangles and negative results. Some workers have also been the victims of grower retaliation against "troublemakers." So instead, one worker wrote down his complaint on a small piece of paper, folded it many times until it resembled a matchbook, and furtively passed it to the lawyer that accompanied us to the camp. A HANDS-OFF POLICY Commonwealth officials in New York told us that most complaints are the result of "misunderstandings" that are quickly settled at the camps. But the volume of law suits brought against growers by the workers themselves, with the assistance of various agencies of the Rural Legal Services Corporation,* sharply contradicts this assertion. Over 90 suits have been filed since 1973, and in some cases the Puerto Rican Secretary of Labor has been named as co-defendant alongside the growers. The Commonwealth itself never brought a single grower to court in 27 years. 1 And since 1973, it has filed several suits against growers who refuse to hire Puerto Rican workers, but only a handful against employers who consistently violate the terms of the contract. Puerto Rican policy has been dictated by the desire to avoid confrontations with the growers. In 1973, for example, the national director of the Migration Division, Marco Rigau, was fired by the Secretary of Labor after only ten weeks in office. Rigau claims he was fired for his efforts to actively enforce the contract, by court action if necessary, while the Secretary wanted things handled "administratively." "If court actions were initiated," the Secretary argued, "farmers would hire other workers without the contract protec- tions developed by the Puerto Rican Government."' 8 This brand of Catch-22 logic has effectively precluded any real enforcement of the contract. The Puerto Rican Labor Department keeps a low profile in the labor camps and fields. In 1973, only 15 representatives were responsible for assuring compliance with the contract in 14 states and on hundreds of farms. 19 According to one expert on migrant legal affairs, the Puerto Rican Labor Department acts only on complaints and never as the result of its own investigative initiatives. 20 The net result of this approach, according to lawyers at Puerto Rican Migrant Legal Services, is that the contract program has been used as "a mechanism to avoid unionization and as a guarantee of a steady supply of cheap  labor." Growers have enjoyed "virtual immunity" from any effective contract enforcement activities, contract violations have become the rule, rather than the exception, and Puerto Rican workers have been "quietly kept under control." 21 Court actions filed by the workers themselves since 1973, without the cooperation of the Commonwealth Government, have begun to cost the growers money. In 1974, for example, a worker brought suit against the Garden State Service Cooperative Association for violation of contract provisions concerning housing. Jose Sanchez Murillo had been living in barracks with faulty heating, a leaky roof, broken window panes, and rats. The court found such conditions "inadequate and infra- human," and awarded the plaintiff $3,000 in damages. 22 A class action suit filed against the Glassboro Service Association, and still pending in the courts, charges that Puerto Rican contract workers were underpaid more than $1 million in wages between 1970 and 1975.23 The growers' loss of "immunity" from contract enforcement has been cited as one of the major factors behind the recent decline in demand for Puerto Rican contract workers. But growers have been mounting their own counter-offensive as well. Blacklisting is just one of the retaliatory tactics being used against workers who dare to file complaints. Glassboro recruiters are said to have carried a big black book with them to Puerto Rico this year. The book listed the names of all the contract workers from previous years, with codes next to each name. Workers with exemplary work records and many years of experience were denied employment if their names carried the code U.L.A. -unauthorized legal action. This "selective" recruitment took place in the offices of the Puerto Rican Department of Labor, where officials refused to intervene when workers protested against these tactics. These blacklisted workers have now filed suit against Glassboro and against the Puerto Rican Department of Labor. 24 Growers have also mounted an offensive against those who lend these workers legal assistance. In written testimony to Congressional subcommittee hearings in 1977, growers accused the Rural Legal Services Corporation of using "harassment tactics" against them. The testimony specifically recommended that Congress investigate the activities of the Puerto Rican Legal Services and withhold all budget increases for 1978. 25 Court action has been a major pillar of workers' efforts to improve their conditions by curbing violations of the existing contract. Yet it is clearly recognized that substantial improvements in the working and living conditions of these migrants can only come about when they themselves control both the negotiation of contracts and their enforcement. ORGANIZING IN THE EAST Seasonal workers are among the most difficult to organize. And when these workers are migrants from over a thousand miles away, scattered on hundreds of farms, the problems multiply. Moreover, as the faces change from one year to the next, the slow task of educating and organizing must begin anew each season. Add to this the growers unalterable opposition to unionization and the more covert opposition of the Puerto Rican government. Despite these obstacles, organizing inroads have been made among Puerto Rican contract workers on the East Coast. The modest success of these efforts in the past few years, however, has been one of the major factors behind the contract program's decline. In the early 1970's, the Connecticut Valley seemed to present the most favorable conditions for organizing. Shade tobacco is grown under white cloth tenting to shield the plants from the sun. Temperature under the nets, where workers spend most of their day, may reach 1200 F, compounded by high humidity. The process has little potential for mechanization. Each plant requires human attention up to 15 times between Spring and Fall, or 930.6 million separate hand operations. 2 6 Furthermore, contract workers in the Connecticut Valley were less dispersed than in other areas. Large labor camps, such as Camp Windsor, the largest labor camp in New England housing 800 workers, corresponded to the concentrated pattern of land ownership and production in the Valley. Family farming had long ago been replaced 25 Nov. Dec. 197726 NACLA Report by corporate agriculture, dominated by such giants as Culbro Corporation (formerly General Cigar Company) and Consolidated Cigar, a subsidiary of the multi-billion dollar conglomerate, Gulf and Western. Culbro and Consolidated together account for half of all cigar sales in the United States. 2 Tobacco growers began importing contract workers from Puerto Rico in 1952, to supplement the West Indian work force they had been using since the 1940's. In 1964, under pressure from the U.S. Department of Labor, they stopped using West Indians and for the next decade relied on Puerto Ricans for 90% of their adult labor force. The Shade Tobacco Growers Association, established in 1941, kept a full-time recruiting staff in Puerto Rico and spent about half a million dollars each summer flying four to six thousand workers from Puerto Rico to the fields. 28 (It is interesting to note that the tobacco leaves grown in the Connecticut Valley, using cheap labor imported from Puerto Rico, are later exported to Puerto Rico for the manufacturing stage of production. Hence, these corporations take advantage of the island's abundant supply of cheap labor at both ends of the production process.) By relying on Puerto Rican contract workers, and on high school students during the busy summer months, tobacco growers thought they were well protected from unionization. But in August 1973, the situation began to change. One hundred Puerto Rican migrants gathered outside the Windsor labor camp and officially created the Association of Agricultural Workers (ATA). ATA functioned on the island and on the mainland. Organizers in Puerto Rico were stationed at local employment service offices, to tell potential migrants about conditions in the camps and fields, and to urge those who migrated to join the union. On the mainland, ATA concentrated its organizing efforts in the Connecticut Valley and New Jersey. Before the 1973 harvest season ended, over 1,500 migrants in Connecticut, Massachusetts and NewJersey had become members. 29 Growers immediately began a counter-of- fensive. They tried to break up ATA meetings in the camps or divert workers by providing free liquor, free trips to baseball games and the like. They also instituted token reforms to pacify the workers. According to former ATA organizer, Juan Vera, conditions in the camps began to improve as soon as ATA began to organize. Representatives from the Shade Tobacco Growers Association met with Department of Labor officials in Puerto Rico to devise a strategy that would obstruct the growth of ATA and similar organizations. One brainchild of that meeting was the establishment of an Advisory Committee, composed of 32 workers, to channel ideas and suggestions regarding the contract to the Puerto Rican Secretary of Labor. ATA immediately repudiated the Committee as a cosmetic gesture that perpetuated the workers' absolute exclusion from any role in negotiating the terms of their own employment. By 1974, over 4,000 workers, mostly employed by Shade, had signed union cards. 30 ATA demanded to be recognized as the legitimate bargaining agent for the workers. Its demands included a grievance procedure, job security, time and a half for over 40 hours, and a $2.50 hourly wage. When these demands were rejected, ATA threatened to call a major strike. Here, the story ends abruptly. For within a few months, the contract program that had lasted 23 years in the Connecticut Valley was discontinued. Growers refused to sign the 1975 contract. With an unemployment rate of 9.7% in Connecticut at the time, growers decided to abandon a labor force gaining in militancy and test the local supply. They offered $2.28 an hour for adults and $1.80 for teenagers, and got plenty of takers. A fleet of 500 buses brought workers to the fields each day from nearby cities. And the growers could breathe a sigh of relief, for if anything is more difficult than organizing migrant labor, it is organizing day-haul labor. But let us not be confused by the term "local" labor. Although the contract program ended in Connecticut in 1975, Puerto Rico did not cease to be the growers' most important source of cheap labor. Growers now resort to illegal private recruitment in Puerto Rico while relying for the majority of their work force on the Puerto Rican population of the mainland. Between 1960 and 1970, the Puerto Rican population of the Hartford area more than tripled, so that in 1975, when 4,100 "local" workers were employed to replace Puerto Rican contract workers, half of these were Puerto Rican residents of the Valley. Many had prior tobacco field experience, and, not surprisingly, many were former contract workers." 3 Hence, it is only a new detachment of Puerto Rico's reserve army of labor that fits the growers' present strategy to avoid unionization and keep wages low. In anticipation of possible problems in the future, however, some growers are already pressing for a return to the good old days when West Indian workers toiled their fields. ATA IN NEW JERSEY ATA's organizing in New Jersey provoked a somewhat different response among growers. Contract workers are still a major factor in New Jersey agriculture, but their numbers have declined sharply over the last five years, and day-haul workers are now being brought in from high-unemployment areas such as Philadelphia and Camden. More importantly, mechanization is beginning to change the face of agriculture in the state. Many farmers have changed from vegetable and fruit crops to soy and grain, precisely because they require very-little hand labor. And even some vegetable crops, such as tomatoes for can- ning, have been almost entirely mechanized. In 1976, a much debilitated ATA decided to merge with the United Farm Workers which planned to open an office in Vineland, New Jersey, at the start of the 1977 growing season. These plans have now been delayed until at least the summer of 1979, with UFW concentrating its efforts on preserving its gains on the West Coast. According to Angel Dominguez, former ATA organizer in New Jersey, there are presently no organizing efforts under way in the state. NEW MARKETS The threat of unionization is only one factor among many behind the steady decline in the number of contract workers from Puerto Rico each year. Costly court suits and other attempts to actually enforce the Puerto Rican contract have lessened the program's appeal. It is becoming increasingly clear to growers that Puerto Rican workers are unwilling to tolerate existing conditions. In 1974, for Vbmw , I4 example, it was estimated that seven out of every ten migrants quit before their contracts ended. 3S Meanwhile the Commonwealth Govern- ment has tried to open up new markets for the export of Puerto Rican labor. Migration Division officials are currently negotiating with sugar growers in Florida, and expect to sign contracts for approximately 200 workers by the next harvest season. By no mere coincidence, Florida growers are increasingly concerned about organizing drives in their state, and the recent contracts signed by the United Farm Workers representing citrus workers employed by Coca-Cola. The most intense battle for markets being waged by the Commonwealth concerns employment in the East Coast apple harvests, extending from Maine down to West Virginia. At stake are several thousand jobs for Puerto Rican migrants, currently filled by contract workers from the West Indies. THE SAN JUAN SHUTTLE: PUERTO RICANS ON CONTRACT 1. Puerto Rican Department of Labor, Migration Division (New York City). 2. Labor Force Statistics Division, Department of La- bor and Human Resources, Puerto Rico, Employment and Unemployment in Puerto Rico, Vols. 77-8 (1977). 3. Ibid. 4. Informed del Subcomite del group de trabajo del go- bernador, Area I, Oportunidades de Empleo, Educacion y Adiestramiento (mimeographed, November 1973), 2. 5. Ibid. 14. 6. Centro de Estudios Puertorriquenos, Taller de Mi- gracion (New York: CUNY, 1975), 165. 7. Oportunidades deEmpleo, 2-4. 8. Ibid., 23. 9. Movimiento de pasajeros para anos fiscales 1940- 1976 (Seccion de Balanza de Pagos, Junta de Planifica- cion, E.L.A., 1976). 10. NACLA interview with Manuel Rodriguez Esca- lera, Director, Agricultural Program, Migration Divi- sion, Department of Labor, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, August 1977. 11. Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Department of Labor, Office of the Secretary, Regulations to Adminis- trative Act No. 87 of June 22, 1962 (March 8, 1974). 12. 1977 Agricultural Agreement between the Glass- boro Service Association and Puerto Rican Agricultural Workers. 13. Oscar Cintron Perez, et al. vs. Glassboro Service Association, et al., Docket No. C-3251-75, Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Cumberland County, Summation ofEvidence, 17. 14. NACLA interview with Mr. David Noriega, Direc- tor of Puerto Rico Migrant Legal Services, September 1977. 15. Summation ofEvidence, 69. 16. Ibid., 76-77. 17. Felipe Rivera, "The Puerto Rican Farmworker," Taller de Migracion (New York: Centro de Estudios Puertoriquenos, CUNY, 1975). 18. New York Times,July 11, 1973. 19. "The Puerto Rican Farmworker," 10. 20. NACLA interview with Michael S. Berger, Farm- workers Rights Project, Civil Liberties Education and Ac- tion Fund of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, September 1977. 21. Statement of Puerto Rico Migrant Legal Services, Inc. to the Subcommittee on Courts, Civil Liberties and Administration of Justice, House Committee on the Judi- ciary (1977), 2. 22. Jose Sanchez Surillo vs. Garden State Service Co- operative Association, Inc., Civil No. CS74-111, Superior Court of Puerto Rico, July 19, 1977. 23, Summation ofEvidence. 24, Irizarry, Mendez, Surillo et al. vs. Hon. Carlos Quiros, Secretary of Labor of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Garden State Services Cooperative Associa- tion, Glassboro Service Association, Ruben Natal and Diego Ortiz, Civil No. 77-752, U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico May 12, 1977. 25. Subcommittee on Courts, Civil Liberties and Ad- ministration of Justice, Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, Written testimony of Arthur West, President of the Garden State Service Cooperative Association, February 25, 1977. 26. New York Times, August 24, 1975. 27. "At the Crossroads: Agriculture and Agricultural Labor in the Connecticut River Valley," prepared jointly by the Greenfield Popular Union (PO Box 251, Turners Falls, MA) and the Waterbury Popular Union. 28. New York Times, August 24, 1975. 29. James Nash, Migrant Farmworkers in Massachu- setts (Boston: Strategy and Action Commission, Massa- chusetts Council of Churches, March 1974), 65. 30. NACLA interview with Juan Vera, former ATA organizer in Connecticut, September 1977. 31. Nicholas Carbone, et al.,The Influence of a Regional Economy on Hartford's Population (City Insti- tute), January 1977, 9.

Tags: US agriculture, Puerto Rico, contract labor

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