Javier Hernandez and Albino Lopez have been working as farm laborers in California’s Central Valley since they emigrated from Mexico forty years ago. It’s a grueling routine but one they’ve grown used to: A truck picks them up at 5 am and transports them to fields where they pick fruits, vegetables and cotton for eight hours a day with few breaks. Heat strokes are common, but they have little access to proper health care. At the end of their shift, they return to overcrowded trailers with other migrant workers. When they can, they send a portion of their minimum wage earnings to their families back in Mexico. The day this picture was taken, the labor contractor, for the second day in a row, sent them home from the fields with no explanation and no pay. They said they can’t afford not to work, as they sat outside playing checkers with stones. When the farming season ends in the winter, they’ll head to Alaska to work in the fisheries, as they do every year.

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“In 1978, it might have been economically feasible and perfectly legal for an executive to award himself a multimillion-dollar bonus while shedding 40 percent of his work force and requiring the survivors to take annual furloughs without pay. But no executive would have wanted the shame and outrage that would have followed any more than an executive today would want to be quoted using a racial slur or photographed with a paid escort.”

- The Broken Contract: Inequality and American Decline by George Packe

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