Farm workers tell Meg, ‘I am Nicky” outside of her office

Latinos protest outside of Meg Whitman's campaign office. Photo by Jocelyn Sherman.

Farm workers tell Meg, ‘I am Nicky,” urging billionaire not to use them and then throw them away…

Seizing on Meg Whitman’s plan to import hundreds of thousands of additional field laborers as guest workers from outside the U.S., dozens of farm workers protested at her Los Angeles and Cupertino headquarters, telling the GOP candidate, “I am Nicky,” and not to use them and then throw them away.

During last week’s gubernatorial debates in Davis and Fresno, Whitman opposed letting undocumented farm workers, who comprise the great majority of California’s 400,000-person farm labor work force, earn legal status by continuing to work in agriculture. Instead, she proposed a guest worker program that would import hundreds of thousands more field hands from outside the country who would come in to work for low pay and few, if any, benefits and then be required to go home. Past practice shows many of the newly imported agricultural guest workers under Whitman’s plan would not return home after their legal employment is over. That was so with many workers during the infamous 1942-1964 bracero program and under the existing H2A agricultural guest worker program.

By contrast, in the debates Jerry Brown supported “a process” through which undocumented workers can earn legal status by continuing to work in key economic sectors such as agriculture. He also backed the broadly supported bipartisan AgJobs bill, negotiated by the United Farm Workers and the nation’s growers, which would do just that for undocumented farm workers. During the Fresno debate, Brown told Whitman, “You don’t just bring in semi-serfs and say do our dirty work, and then [tell them] we’re finished with you like an orange and just throw it away. That’s after you’ve squeezed it. That’s not right!”

“I am Nicky,” exclaimed signs held by farm workers at the Tuesday demonstrations, who also told Whitman not to use them and then throw them away. The message reflected the story of Whitman’s maid, Nicky Diaz, who, when she asked for help with her immigration status after working for Whitman for nine years, said the billionaire former Ebay CEO fired her, “throwing me away like a piece of garbage.”

Update: be sure to check out the United Farm Workers Facebook page and join it if you haven’t done so already.