Farm Labor, the Newcomers


In the post-World War II era, the peak period of Puerto Rican migration, many men and women – displaced from rural economies – went to continental US in search for work. Many of them did it via a seasonal agricultural labor contract. The state promoted farm labor programs enabling poor rural people to migrate directly to the States without even saving money for the trip. Needless to say that these programs met the State’s immediate need for cheap seasonal agricultural laborers.
People signed labor contacts with employers and then the contacts were approved by Puerto Rico’s Commissioner of Labor: “Farmers requested Puerto Rican workers through the local offices of the U.S. Employment Service. The requests were forwarded to the regional office of the Bureau of Employment Security which certified the need for laborers and contacted Puerto Rico’s Employment Service for recruitment.” (Cf. Carmen Teresa Whalen, From Puerto Rico to Philadelphia, 2001, p. 49)

The three largest Puerto Rican communities in the US were New York, Chicago and Philadelphia

Don Julio

Born in Aibonito, Puerto Rico in 1925,  used labor contracts for two years before settling in Philadelphia in 1953. Don Julio: “Well, you see, I’ve always worked. Well, then I wen to work to earn money, and the work that there was, was sugar cane. Work in sugar cane is really though. Sugar cane, it irritates [your skin] badly, ooh. I worked for about a year. Then I heard the news that they were going to bring people to work in the United States. Then, I went and filled out a paper. I came.” (Whalen, 2001, p. 71)

Farm Jobs State Employment Service 1950

Farm Jobs. Farm placement Service. State Employment Service. 1064 Maine St., Auburn, GA. August 1, 1950. (Taken from “Farm Labor Bulletin: North Dakota State Employment Service)

Farm Labor Bulletin Missouri 1950

Division of Employment Security, Missouri. Post Office Box 59, Jefferson City. Telephone 3080. May 12, 1950. (Taken from “Farm Labor Bulletin: North Dakota State Employment Service)

Farm Labor Information US Department of Labor 1950

Farm Labor Information 1/2 mile ahead. U.S. Department of Labor. U.S. Employment Service (Taken from “Farm Labor Bulletin: North Dakota State Employment Service)

Farm Labor logo

Farm Labor (Taken from “Farm Labor Bulletin: North Dakota State Employment Service)

Recruitment of Puerto Rican Labir for Seasonal Agricultural Employment 1950

Extract Agreement Governing Employment of Puerto Rican Labor
(Taken from “Farm Labor Bulletin: North Dakota State Employment Service)
Farm Labor Bulletin
North Dakota State Employment Service
April 20, 1950
Bulletin No. 2 ??
Agreement Governing Employment of Puerto Rican Labor
(Extract)
a. The United States Employment service, bureau of Employment Security, will consider Puerto Rico as a supply source of domestic labor and will extend clearance orders to the Puerto Rican Department of Labor, after clearance has been madder in the Stat and region of demand, and thereafter in the interregional clearance if labor demands of the employer have not been satisfy. If an employer states a preference for Puerto Rican labor and the State agency determines that labor is not available within the State or adjoining States, the order may be extended by the headquarters office of the Bureau to the Puerto Rican Department of Labor, through its New York Office.

Full text in PDF file here : FarmPlacementHandbookPT2 Virginia State

Farm Labor Bulletin
North Dakota State Employment Service
April 20, 1950
Bulletin No. 2 ??
Agreement Governing Employment of Puerto Rican Labor

(Extract)
a. The United States Employment service, bureau of Employment Security, will consider Puerto Rico as a supply source of domestic labor and will extend clearance orders to the Puerto Rican Department of Labor, after clearance has been madder in the Stat and region of demand, and thereafter in the interregional clearance if labor demands of the employer have not been satisfy. If an employer states a preference for Puerto Rican labor and the State agency determines that labor is not available within the State or adjoining States, the order may be extended by the headquarters office of the Bureau to the Puerto Rican Department of Labor, through its New York Office.

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6 Responses to Farm Labor, the Newcomers

  1. Pingback: Farm Labor, the Newcomers | Se destetó Teté

  2. Ratonet says:

    “The creation of the institutional framework to facilitate migration through the availability of cheap air fares between Puerto Rico and the United States, as well as an advertising campaign for jobs in the United States, provided the framework for the process of massive migration. This migration program aimed to stabilize the local labor market, which was characterized by high unemployment rates. The Migration Office attached to Puerto Rico’s abor Department was organized to foster mass migration from the island to the metropole.”

    Grosfoguel, Ramón. Colonial subjects: Puerto Ricans in a global perspective. Berkeley London: University of California Press, 2003, p. 058

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  3. Ratonet says:

    In an influential book, Senior (1947b) advocated the creation of an emigration office, attached to the governor’s executive staff and working closely with the Department of Labor. Its main function would be to recruit workers from Puerto Rico to the United States and Latin America. The office would provide migrants with information on job openings, training, transportation, settlement, and insurance, as well as promote further emigration from the Island.

    Duany, Jorge. The Puerto Rican Nation on the Move: Identities on the Island and in the United States. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina press, 2002, p. 170

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  4. Ratonet says:

    During the Second World War the United States relied on Mexican immigrants (through Bracero program) for cheap labor in south-western agriculture and on women in northern industries. Puerto Ricans were recruited through a war-effort federal program to work in agriculture and industries in the Northeast during the Second War World (Maldonado 1979).

    Grosfoguel, Ramón. Colonial subjects: Puerto Ricans in a global perspective. Berkeley London: University of California Press, 2003, p. 133

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  5. Ratonet says:

    Aibonito, a place residents like to call the ‘Switzerland of Puerto Rico’

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  6. Pingback: Aibonito | Boricuolandía

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