John Bowe

John Bowe is a co-editor of GIG: Americans Talk About Their Jobs. He has written for The New Yorker and The New York Times Magazine.

Recent Articles

A Shameful Harvest

The vast majority of America's farm laborers are immigrants, many of them undocumented. Farm work is notoriously dangerous, arduous and toxic; the average U.S. farmworker has a life expectancy of just 49 years. Farm laborers are generally paid piecework rates. Their average earnings are $7,500 a year, or $150 a week, by far the lowest wage of any occupation. Most farm laborers are denied overtime pay, medical insurance, sick leave or the right to organize. In many states they're excluded from workers' compensation and unemployment benefits. Of the more than 1 million farmworkers in this country, only about 27,000 are unionized. Growers insist that they need a plentiful supply of immigrants because Americans aren't interested in hard work. A more accurate statement is that few Americans will perform hard work for $150 a week. A vicious cycle emerges: Growers rely on economically desperate immigrants, who are forced to accept meager wages, and workers in marginal situations are unable...