My latest essay at PajamasMedia:

Slave-labor conditions at Sherrods’ farm?

Shocking new allegations against Shirley Sherrod (the USDA employee recently embroiled in a controversy over a speech she gave to the NAACP) and the communal farm she ran with her husband Charles Sherrod have been confirmed by an article published 36 years ago in a farm workers’ newspaper.

Combined, the new 2010 allegations and the original 1974 allegations accuse Shirley and Charles Sherrod of:

• Paying farm workers as little as 67¢ per hour, far below minimum wage for the era
• Employing underage children to perform hard labor
• Compelling their employees to work in unsafe conditions, including getting sprayed with pesticides
• Firing any workers who acted as whistleblowers
• Forcing employees to work overtime in the fields at night with practically no advance notice
• Having a capricious payscale under which employees doing the exact same jobs were paid different amounts according to the whims of the managers
• Being unwilling to address the abuse even after it was raised by union representatives
• Seriously mismanaging the farm to such an extent that it went bankrupt

Let’s first look at the new allegations, and then at the original allegations.

Ron Wilkins accuses Sherrods of Exploitation and Mistreatment

On Monday, August 2, 2010, Ron Wilkins, who was a black Civil Rights activist and organizer in the ’70s and is now a professor specializing in African-American history, published an incendiary article in the magazine CounterPunch in which he describes how he infiltrated the Sherrods’ “New Communities” farm commune in 1974 and discovered horrifying circumstances where black farm workers labored in near-slavery conditions, often being paid as little as 67¢ per hour (far under the minimum wage at the time) and facing intolerable conditions:

Read the rest HERE!

7 Responses to “Slave-labor conditions at Sherrods’ farm?”

  1. 1Wolfram on Aug 5, 2010 at 9:33 pm:

    Stellar work as ever, zombie. It’s always great to see a new report from you–and that rewrite of Minnie the Moocher had me singing right along, which is a nice bonus when one’s catching up on the news!

  2. 2CattusMagnus on Aug 6, 2010 at 10:37 am:

    Curiouser & curiouser.

  3. 3Dane on Aug 6, 2010 at 6:35 pm:

    Excellent piece.

    I love the way you head off the context game by always providing far more than any reasonable person would ask for.

  4. 4Bakunin on Aug 8, 2010 at 2:44 pm:

    Welcome to the life of any American farm labourer.

    On July 2008 the farm worker Ramiro Carrillo Rodriguez, 48, died of a heat stroke in California. This would have been the 13th farm worker to die of heat related causes since 2003. California has heat regulations in law, but these are not strictly enforced, ’cause you know, that would cut into profits.

    Seems this ‘aint a problem with Sherrod (In 1974….) but a problem with how all farm across America are run and the lack of real oversight and regulation that has made it so that very little has changed since A Harvest of Shame.

  5. 5zombielogic on Aug 8, 2010 at 8:57 pm:

  6. 6Reed Schlageter on May 19, 2014 at 9:51 pm:

    WOW! Astounding and well deserved.

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