Agricultural Employment in the Pacific Northwest

I’ve written about the change in demographics of agricultural workers in the Southeast in the past here. While looking for something completely different I stumbled across this account at Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project of the changing demographics of agricultural workers in Washington State:

Until the late twentieth century, the majority of agricultural workers in Washington State were white, native-born, mostly single men under the age of 40. Therefore, early organizing strategies among farm workers usually involved male white migrant men. Organizing efforts that did involve people of color generally occurred separately from white labor struggles, as in the case of Filipino labor unionism in the 1930s.

What caused that change? What happened in the 1970s? I don’t think it was a surge in alternative employment opportunities elsewhere for white workers. Did farm work suddenly become distasteful? Or was there some other change?

2 comments… add one
  • Jimbino

    Lots of Latinos were and are White, historically almost all in positions of leadership. Classifying farm workers as either “Latino” or “White” is confusing.

  • PD Shaw

    @Jimbino, that probably explains the subtle changes in the graph.

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