Cory Booker becomes the second senator to join farmworkers as part of ‘Take Our Jobs’ challenge

Cory Booker becomes the second senator to join farmworkers as part of ‘Take Our Jobs’ challenge

New Jersey’s Cory Booker joined California farmworkers last week to harvest lettuce, plant tomatoes, and prepare leafy greens for selling, becoming the second U.S. senator to take part in the “Take Our Jobs” campaign.

To date, only Booker and California Senator Alex Padilla have accepted the challenge from United Farm Workers’ (UFW), UFW Foundation (UFWF), and farmworkers to work side-by-side with them for one day. In a statement, Booker said he left the day “with a renewed appreciation of the incredible job that farm workers do each day in the face of immense challenges and struggle.”

RELATED STORY: Alex Padilla joins California farmworkers for a day, one of just two senators to accept invitation

“From being the foundation of our nation’s food system to standing on the frontlines of our nation’s continued response to the COVID-19 pandemic, farm workers perform work that is vital for our nation,” Booker said. Tweets and photographs from UFW and UFWF showed Booker starting the day by harvesting lettuce, then moving to a cleaning station to help wash arugula.

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Like Padilla earlier this month, Booker criticized the lack of permanent protections and full workplace rights for farmworkers despite the fact that they help feed the nation. 

“For far too long, however, many of them have been denied basic legal protections, benefits, and a pathway to citizenship,” Booker continued. “I am grateful for those who shared their stories with me today. It’s long overdue for Congress to act to protect farm workers and our food system.”

“I am glad Senator Booker took the opportunity to come and work alongside incredibly skilled farm workers like those he met today in New Jersey,” said UFW President Teresa Romero. “Farm workers have done the skilled and often grueling work to keep our food supply stable crisis after crisis. The Senate needs to work just as hard for them. I hope more members of Congress accept our invitation to join us in the fields and see for themselves just how much skill this difficult work requires.”

“[Farm] workers perform work that is vital for our nation. For far too long, however, many of them have been denied basic legal protections, benefits & a pathway to citizenship. I am grateful for those who shared their stories with me today.” – @SenBooker #TakeOurJobs, #WeFeedYou pic.twitter.com/TXFG4X6nZ4

— United Farm Workers (@UFWupdates) June 17, 2022

.@SenBooker spent the morning doing various types of work alongside farm workers. After harvesting lettuce, he then went to the cleaning station to clean arugula. Sen. Cory Booker is the 2nd U.S. Senator to accept @ufwfoundation/@ufwupdates invite to #TakeOurJobs! pic.twitter.com/NmVApldjgb

— UFW Foundation (@ufwfoundation) June 17, 2022

“I was intellectually aware of these issues, but God when you actually do the job for a short snippet of time when these folks do every single day, your depth of empathy grows, your sense of urgency grows.” – @SenBooker 2/2 #WeFeedYou

— United Farm Workers (@UFWupdates) June 21, 2022

Earlier this month, Padilla joined workers to help harvest radishes and parsley. If you are able to access fresh produce, your food got to your grocer thanks to the hands of farmworkers like UFW members. Now there’s a chance that within the last couple of weeks, it got there through the hands of either Padilla or Booker. Notably missing from the list of people who have taken up the “Take Our Jobs” commitment are all other members of the U.S. Senate, who also benefit from the labor of farmworkers, including those without legal status.

“The ‘Take Our Jobs’ campaign was first launched in 2010, with more than four million Americans visiting a website set up by the union,” the release said. “The UFW offered to link unemployed persons during the 2008 recession with jobs in agriculture near their homes anywhere in America. Out of the four million-plus who visited the site, only 11 people responded to the UFW’s offer to work in the fields.”

While legislation that could put undocumented farmworkers passed the House of Representatives last year 247-174 (with support from 30 Republicans), Booker and Padilla haven’t been able to vote on it because the bill can’t get to the floor due to the Jim Crow filibuster. The Farm Workforce Modernization Act’s passage in the House under Democratic leadership marked the first time in decades that the chamber had passed an agricultural labor immigration bill.

“We applaud Senator Booker for taking the time to spend a day working in the fields alongside farm workers to highlight the need for immigration reform,” said UFW Foundation Executive Director Diana Tellefson Torres. “Day in and day out, farm workers show up to work to nourish us all. Just as farm workers toil away in the fields to feed families all over the U.S., we hope that all 100 senators commit themselves to work just as hard for these brave men and women and do all they can to pass immigration reform.”

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