David Bacon

David Bacon is a California writer and photojournalist; his latest book is In the Fields of the North / En los Campos del Norte (University of California / El Colegio de la Frontera Norte, 2017).

Recent Articles

How Unions Help Immigrants Resist Deportations

In California, labor has long protected its immigrant members—and now, it’s defending non-members as well.

(Photo: David Bacon) In San Francisco, janitors and other workers support A.B. 450, a bill to protect workers during immigration raids and enforcement actions. L abor historian Fred Glass, looking at the impact of immigration on California's labor movement, notes that many immigrants have arrived in the state with a long history of labor and left-wing activism. Unions have then called on that history and consciousness to aid in organizing drives among janitors, farm workers, hotel housekeepers, and others. “Because the labor movement has understood this fact and designed its efforts around it,” he argues, “California's unionization rate remains at 16 percent while the national average is 11 percent.” The state has 2.55 million union members, far more than any other. To union leaders, that's also one explanation—in addition to the state designating itself as a sanctuary—for the announcement by the Trump administration that it is targeting California for intensive workplace immigration...

Braceros Strike After One Worker Dies

Risking deportation, Washington state farmworkers protest dangerous conditions in the fields.

(Photo: Edgar Franks)
(Photo: Edgar Franks) A farmworker’s death in the broiling fields of Washington state has prompted his fellow braceros to put their livelihoods in jeopardy by going on strike, joining a union, being discharged—and risking deportation. Honesto Silva Ibarra died in Harborview hospital in Seattle on Sunday night, August 6. Silva, a married father of three, was a guest worker—in Spanish, a “contratado”—brought to the United States under the H-2A visa program, to work in the fields. Miguel Angel Ramirez Salazar, another contratado, says Silva went to his supervisor at Sarbanand Farms last week, complaining that he was sick and couldn’t work. “They said if he didn’t keep working, he’d be fired for ‘abandoning work.’ But after a while he couldn’t work at all.” Silva finally went to the Bellingham Clinic, about an hour south of the farm where he was working, in Sumas, close to the Canadian border. By then it was too late, however. He was sent to Harborview, where he collapsed and died. Silva’...

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