54 Years Later, “Harvest Of Shame” More Like “Warehouse Of Shame”

Most of our readers are probably too young to have even heard of “Harvest of Shame,” a 1960 hourlong CBS documentary special hosted by news legend Edward R. Murrow. It exposed the terrible physical and employment conditions of migrant workers on American farms. Today, there’s a different kind of mistreated invisible workforce all around us: the armies of temporary workers who power our warehouses and factories. Turns out that picking strawberries in 1960 has a lot in common with unpacking stuffed animals in 2013.

ProPublica has been running a variety of stories on our temp-based economy for some time now. It’s not a bad thing to run warehouses and factories on temporary labor, though, is it? Not on its face, but remember that warehouse and factory jobs can be very dangerous, and are even more dangerous when a worker gets only rudimentary training. Even if you don’t care about your fellow human beings, that doesn’t mean that under-trained temps can’t affect you personally. After all, these are the factories that package your booze and make your frozen pizzas.

You might remember the contaminated over-the-counter drugs recalled in 2010: an investigation showed that many of the defective drugs came from a factory staffed by under-trained temps.

Here’s the original “Harvest of Shame” documentary, if historic TV interests you.

A Modern Day ‘Harvest of Shame’ [ProPublica]
Temp Land [ProPublica Investigations]
Permanently Temporary: The Truth About Temp Labor (Part 1 of 5) [Vice]

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  1. CommonC3nts says:

    The sad part is companies still get away with hiring illegal immigrants in their factories and farms.
    The government does not even try to stop the illegal labor as it is a huge money maker for all the companies that donate to our politicians.

    An illegal should never be able to get a job in the or be paid. It is a joke that we dont stop illegals from working.

    • furiousd says:

      And it’s not a race or bigotry issue as many opponents claim, America was built on the idea of people from other countries coming here and being part of something better. I’m happy to have a steady flow of new citizens coming in to the country, properly, legally. What gets me about so many issues with the federal government is the forced benefits to specialty groups in the name of equality. Until everyone is on equal footing and allowed to pursue the American dream without tipping the scales in anyone’s favour, there will exist resentment in the public’s mind toward one group or another; just the face of the boogeyman will change over time.

      • PhillyDom says:

        America was built on the idea of people from other countries coming here and being part of something better. I’m happy to have a steady flow of new citizens coming in to the country, properly, legally.

        Immigration law allows a maximum of 700,000 legal immigrants a year. In a country of more than 314 million, that’s a trickle, not a flow.