Life-long agricultural employment in Colorado


Main Participant

Juanita

Occupation

Farm warehouse worker, onion fields

Colorado County & Region

Southeast Colorado, Pueblo area

Original Language

English

Transcription

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Juanita has been working on farms in Pueblo and the surrounding areas since she was a young girl of 10 years old. In the summers she would go with her dad to work in the fields. She has worked pulling weeds in the fields during the scorching hot weather of Pueblo. During the school year, Juanita would take time off and only work when she could. This routine continued until she became pregnant and started a family. Her husband also worked in the fields and before long, she was back to working on the farms. It is now a generational job, her father worked in the fields, she got used to the atmosphere and the routines and has not left. Right now, Juanita is 32 years old, has three children and she continues to work in agriculture. Even though she has been there for so long, she has not gained much in terms of pay raises and benefits. Juanita splits time working the farm warehouse in packaging and working in the green onion fields where she is paid for each full box she completes in the day.

From so many years of working in the fields in the heat and for working in the colder warehouses, Juanita’s face has an almost permanent sunburn, with dark spots. She has mentioned that she more than likely has spots of skin cancer, and that the pesticides used on the fruits and vegetables have also caused her to have vision problems. She has been seen at the Pueblo Community Health Center, where she feels she gets good attention, but also does not want to lose her employment. When Juanita talks about these things, she starts to feel a little uneasy because she does not like to do much in public places, and she feels a little ashamed. She does not want to lose time from working especially now during the pandemic. To help with staying out of the sun, she has learned more about working inside the warehouse where she does not have to get sunburned every day. One last thing that sticks out about Juanita and her story is that even though she graduated high school in Pueblo County, she never tried to get out of the routine of working in the fields. It is a place where she feels connected with her culture and has her contacts. She has a trust with the people she works with and has worked with for years. She feels like she can’t try to complain because she could be let go and someone would easily replace her. Juanita wishes that her children can do well in school and have better careers than her and her husband.

Title

Life-long agricultural employment in Colorado

Description

A story about a worker who started working on farms in Colorado when he was a high school student. She is now facing some health challenges.

Creator

Linda Timmins

Date

2/1/2021

Contributor

Kassandra Neiss

Coverage

Citation

Linda Timmins, Life-long agricultural employment in Colorado 2/1/2021. Esencial Colorado, accessed June 24, 2024, https://esencialcolorado.org/items/show/14