One of Maurice "Mo" Jourdane's greatest contributions to the advancement of farm workers in the fields of California was his relentless -- and ultimately successful -- effort to end agricultural employers' required use of the short-handled hoe by laborers in the state's lucrative lettuce, celery, sugar beet, and strawberry industries. The short hoe, known by Hispanic farm workers as el cortito (the short one), was the cause of severe and permanent crippling of hundreds of thousands of field laborers. It required workers to spend as many as ten to twelve hours each day, often in more than 90-degree heat, stopped over in a back-breaking posture, thinning and weeding plants for agribusiness employers who profited immensely from the workers' low-cost labor. This retrospective account of Jourdane's efforts to advance the rights of farm workers and their families during the 1960s and 1970s helps to provide contextual history to the continuing injustices that plague contemporary workers in the U.S. garment, service, and heavy production industries. The author's summation of the farm workers' struggle for justice makes clear that despite the real gains achieved by California farm laborers during his youth, the struggle is never-ending, and today much more remains to be done to ensure safe and decent working conditions in America.
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|The Struggle for Health and Legal Protection of Farm Workers: El Cortito||1|