Local News

Some Migrant Workers Beat the Heat By Heading Home

Posted August 16, 1999

— Migrant workers who come to the United States are no strangers to hard work or high temperatures. However, some say the North Carolina heat is just too much to bear.

Many migrant workers back at home have to work a month to get paid what they can make in a week on a tobacco farm in North Carolina, but a number of them are leaving.

Migrant laborers are not used to 100-degree temperatures and high humidity found in North Carolina this summer.

"It's cooler where we are," said one worker through an interpreter.

Bailing tobacco instead of picking it provides an escape from the heat for the workers. Some workers are escaping the heat by heading back to Mexico where it is as much as 20 degrees cooler.

"I've heard a lot of people say its just so hot compared to what they are used to. They get sick, and they go home. They decide that it is not worth it to stay. Last year, I didn't hear of that happening," said Lisa Goldman, migrant outreach worker.

A Granville County migrant outreach worker says it could be dozens, if not hundreds, of laborers who have chosen to leave.

Farmer Danny Williams says that is why he is not taking any chances with his workers.

"We've tried to change our work schedule, so we try to be in the fields each morning by 5:30. We try to complete our pulling or harvesting by 10 or 11 in the mornings," said Williams.

Williams knows he needs to keep his men around with the tobacco harvest about to get into full-swing.

Another sickness called "green tobacco" is also affecting the workers. When workers are out in the fields, the tobacco gets on them and into their pores.

It gives them a form of nicotine poisoning. Supposedly, that is a lot worse since it is much hotter.


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