Working Poor investigates the lives and working conditions of migrant farmworkers in seven regions of the United States. The community studies in this volume include descriptions and analyses of the low-income neighborhoods of Immokalee, Florida; Parlier, California; Weslaco, Texas; and Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, where growers and farm contractors put immigrants to work in fruit and vegetable harvests. The authors link farmworker communities that have winter growing seasons with summer labor supply demand regions in the northern United States, in particular south-western Michigan, New Jersey, and the Delmarva Peninsula of Maryland and Delaware.
The authors investigate ethnic succession in the farm labor market and the ways individual farmworkers, farmworker families, and networks organize these migrations and attach themselves to farming operations by a variety of social relations. Framing the portraits of crowded households, the histories of networks, and the ethnic vignettes are three chapters placing the community studies into historical and theoretical perspectives. This broad framework underscores the importance of housing, transportation, networks, labor contracts, and ethnic relations in the organization of low-wage labor markets.