Running Head: ETHICAL THEORIES A BOUT MIGRANT WORKERS 1 The Sacrifices that the M igrant Workers Have Ma de in the Un ited States Chi Yu an Wu California State Polytechnic University, Pomona Professor Dorothy M. Farias AG 401 0 – 10 Topic Paper #1 October 1 3 , 201 8Running Head: ETHICAL THEORIES A BOUT MIGRANT WORKERS 2 Introduction In t oday ‘ s so ciety, most of the people want to buy the ir food a t a more affordable pri ce. However, this behavior can uninte n ti on ally lo wer farm work er s wages and worsen their living con ditions. In these three films : The Harvest/La Cosecha (2011) , Harvest of Shame (1960) , and Harvest of Dignity (2012) , they discuss the unethic al usage of labor from The Great Migration to contemporary American society and d ocument the difficulties of the ir lives on a daily ba sis.
While the majority of the United States encourages their children to dream big and is supportive of the decisions of younger generations, children of migrant workers are working hard in the fields losing sight of their dreams and hopes. In this essay, I will be analyzing four ethical theories including Consequentialism, Cultural Relativism, Ethical Egoism, and Social Contract Theory . m igrant worker’s lives are carefully examined and considered in light of what is truly justifiable as morale and what is and could actually be bearable. Consequentialism From p arent s ‘ p oint of view, they are willing to provide the best resources for their children. However , in the case of the migrant farm workers, anyone capable of physical labor even including their children are pushed into working as a child labor in or der to earn more m oney . Under the Ethical Theory of Consequentialism, these children of migrant workers working on t he field have to battle betw een receiving an e duc ation and earning extra income for their family . Consequentialism holds that the consequence and outcome of one’s conduct is the sole indicator of what is morally right (Mastin, 2008). I t may be justifiable for parents to take their kids from the classroom to the fields because they need th em to loosen the fi nancial b urden .
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Running Head: ETHICAL THEORIES A BOUT MIGRANT WORKERS 3 Although Consequentialist theory justifies the need for children as field workers over classr oom achievers, there has been changes in children’s lives after wat chin g both of these films: Harvest of Shame (1960) and Harvest of Dignity (2012). In Harvest of Shame, Edward R. Murrow mentions that children are left while their parent s are working throughout t he day (1960). He also shows clips about the perception on summer school kids from t eachers , how they are not optimistic about how certain children will advance in respective to their living conditions. In 1960, Consequentialist theory supports that education was no t prioritized for children of migrant workers because it was even difficult for them to feed these children. In 2011, the fil m called ” Harvest of Dignity ” mentions some support programs for migrant children and possess a more positive attitude for their balance b etween work and s chool. The outcome that a child can do well in school while contributing labor in the field and income for the ir family supports the positive change since the publication of the fi lm called Harvest of Shame. Cultural Relativism Cultural Relativism states that good and bad are relative to culture, in that these actions are not absolute but rather different (Farias, Cultural Relativism, p.
2). This ethical theory justi fies the mistreatment of migrant workers because t hey agreed to these conditions so that th ey can provide labor in e xchange of a paycheck . The migrant workers of today, as shown in Harvest of Dignity, are exposed to the similar terrible working conditions as their 1960 ‘ s counte rparts . The reason is that either this way of life is better than that of how it was before, or workers feel they belong in that specific farming culture (Campbell, 2012).
Note how in Harvest of Shame, Murrow repeatedly ask migrant workers in the interviews if th ey ever feel as though they can get out of this lifestyle (1960). Surprising ly , m ost of the workers say no as if they are part of thisRunning Head: ETHICAL THEORIES A BOUT MIGRANT WORKERS 4 farming culture. It is unfortunate that the press interprets the farmers believe these migrant workers are willing to accept these poor conditions, in that they are better off with these jobs. Over the past few dec ad es, t he society wa s limited to significant changes. The i ssue of terrible living and working con ditions still exist . Repeatedly today, there is one toilet for eve ry ten workers, in addition to sewage problems that even children are exposed to.
Migrant farm workers that c ome from Mexico do not have many legal or moral protection because of cultural relativism, which holds that moral principles are dependent on culture and individual choices (Farias, Cultural Relativism, p. 3). With that being sai d , it is acceptable for the farmers to provide such poor – quality living spaces and lack of sanitation to Mexican migrant workers under the condition . Due t o limited amount of choices , they are granted relatively better lives through these job opportunities.
The intervi ewer called Guernina in the f ilm Harvest of Dignity (2012 ) mentions that her life is muc h better in the United States . Her perception is based on the cultural upbringing that she had . This ethical condition of relativism also places prejudice towards perceptions of the se workers, as Ingrid, an adopted girl in Guernina’s home, mentions that they are not treated as a human being. F or example, she mentions that dogs are treated better because workers are not provided with beds.
It’s interesting to note that the younger generation, who has partially adopted the U.S culture, who has access to see the other student’s privileges, can note the terrible conditions in contrast to the perspective from Guernina . In gen eral, ch ildren who are agricultural labor s in the US are mostl y from the cultural groups that lives in poverty and have l imited access to education. In reality, it can be difficult to report children in these circumstances, which limit s the opportunities for protection. It is important to create a law to p rotect these labors who are not familiar w ith the legal s ystem in US . Cultural and ethic al relativism theories b ring out the lack of protection because these childrenRunning Head: ETHICAL THEORIES A BOUT MIGRANT WORKERS 5 and their parents choose to place them in the fields. The children who provide income to families by working in the fi elds have to no othe r op tions because they have been born into this social status . Both Har vest of Shame (1960) and Harvest of Dignity (2012), largely cover the issue of children labors and some pro blems that ar e in fi eld of cultural relativism .
Furthermore, most state agriculture law ignores the rightness of chi ldren being a farm work er : children as young as ten can work thirty hours a week even today w as me n t i on e d the in the documentary ( Harvest of Dignity, 2012). Ethical Egoism Now adays, a gri business is very price sensitive because of the pressure from customers and farm workers . Since there are so many competitors and suppliers, it drives the prices down. If one farmer decides to pay migrant farm workers the right salary, he will be swallowed by other famers who are competing ag ainst him in ter ms of wages . Under the the o r y of Ethical Egoism, farmers will be able to overlook the morality of their workers and their living condition s in or der t o achieve the success of their own farming business. Ethical Egoism states that human bei ng act s out of self – interest because it is the best interest for the public in the long run (Farias, Ethical Egoism, p.
12). In a journ al arti cle called ” G ambling on Gra pes, ” the auth or mentions the fa rmers under paid their workers so mu ch that their workers decide d to st rike and protest in fr ont of a winery in Napa Valley. Therefore, for a farmer, regardless of benefiting the worker’s conditio ns, their priority goes to maximizing profit and harvest. Unfortunately, as a human being , no one deserves to live in the conditions that most of the migrant workers live in. These workers left their country to find a better living situation for their family but corruption in the agricultural business got many of the families stuck in a loop of chasing me als. The Harvest (2011), mentions that more than 300,000 farm workers suffer fromRunning Head: ETHICAL THEORIES A BOUT MIGRANT WORKERS 6 health concerns , such as pesticide poison ing every year and that the average farm migrating family in the United States makes $17,500 which is under the poverty line of $24,000. These farm working families are not able to get food stamps, welfare and can’t even benefit from the food banks du e to their le ga l status .
It is unfair to deny services such as healthcare and social services working within the walls of the United States. Overall, the Ethical Egoism the ory does not justify the inhumane conditions o f the migrant worker environment. Social Contract Theory The Social Contract Theory states that social goods require the social cooperation of social goods, such as farming, industry, education, housing, and technology (Farias, Social Contract Theory, p. 1).
One t he Harvest of D ignity website , it provides an extensive list of resources that shares stories and statistics that helps people who are experienc ing similar probl ems as a gu ideline to f ollow . In terms of Social Contract Theory, the government and authority in U nited Sates are healing to the rig ht directions of enforcing soci al ethics and obligations for migrant workers . For e xamp le, p ublic education, taxes, and awareness are all tools to improve the lives of migrant workers in the Social Contract Theory. Individuals who has the p ower to bring awarenes s t o the public , such as producers Edward R. Murrow of Harvest of Shame (1960), Donna Campbell of Harvest of Dignity (2012), and U.R. Romano of The Harvest (2011) facilitate people to willingly get the government ‘ s atte nt ion .
It is idealistic but hopeful to have a farm labor system that is ethical in all areas, such as business, human rights, and labor. To put this in to practice , a lot of time and money will have to be sacrificed to enforce policies, to build li vable habitats, and ensure profitable and ethical business conditions.Running Head: ETHICAL THEORIES A BOUT MIGRANT WORKERS 7 Concl usion From the past to t he pre sent, migrant workers have suffered from many ethical issues in th e field of agribusiness .
After going through some strikes and protests , m ost of the migrant farmers have gaine d some fin ancial support s from t he public. Most importantly , the ir children are able to receive better educa tion s and work their way up to have better l iving cond i tions. Overall, the sacrifice s that the migr ant workers made from the past have helped the ir children to g et a ci tizenship in America and eliminate d the risk of being deported back to Mexico du e to t he l egal sta tus.Running Head: ETHICAL THEORIES A BOUT MIGRANT WORKERS 8 Re ferences Campbell, D. (Producer). (2012, August 16).
Harvest of Dignity Video. A Minnow Media Production. Received from http://video.unctv.org/video/2268914359/ Farias, D. M. (2013).
Cultural Relativism_Bb Notes Powerpoint Slides. Farias, D. M. (2013). Ethical Egoism_Bb Notes Powerpoint Slides. Farias, D. M.
(2013). Social Contract Theory_Labor Issues Bb Notes Powerpoint Slides. (2016). Harvest of Dignity: Resources Web post. Retrieved from http://www.
unctv.org/content/harvest/resources Mastin, L. (2008). The Basics of Philosophy: Consequentialism Web log post. Retrieved from http://www.
philosophybasics.com/branch_consequentialism.html Murrow, E. R. (Journalist), & Friendly, F. W. (Director).
(1960, November 25). Harvest of Shame CBS Reports. David Lowe (Producer).
USA: CBS. Lamoree, E. (2012). Gambling on Grapes: Management, Marketing, and Labor in California Agribusiness. Agricultural History, 86 (3), 104 – 127. doi:10.
3.104 Romano, U. R. (Producer), & O’Connor, R. (Producer), ; Longoria, E. (Producer), ; Romano, U. R.
(Director). (2011). The Harvest: La Cosecha Motion picture.
United States: Cinema Libre Studio.