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The final assembly of all U.S. nu clear weapons takes place in the Texas Panhandle. Houston has more oil company headquarters than any other city in the world. The whole state reeks of Sunbelt boosters, strident anti-unionists, political hucksters, and new industry and money. THIS IS THE LOOK OF TEXAS TODAY and the Texas Observer has its independent eye on all of it. We offer the latest in corporate scams and political scandals as well as articles on those who have other, and more humane, visions of what our state can be. Become an Observer subscriber today, order a gift for a friend, or instruct us to enter a library subscription under your patronage. Send the Observer to name address city state zip this subscription is for myself gift subscription: send card in my name S20 enclosed for a one-year subscription bill me for $20 name address city state zip THE TEXAS OBSERVER 600 W. 7th, Austin, Texas 78701 I’d have to be real you and say that I don’t any employer that is e egal aliens in the State o agriculture’. . So, it’ll find. particularly in there are no illegal wOrking in in agriculture from testimony given hrScott Toothakei., an attorney in the Valley, on August 18 in Harlingen. The provisions of this law shall not apply to actions to recover damages for personal injuries nor for death resulting from personal injuries sustained by domestic servants or casual employees engaged in employment incidental to a personal residence, farm laborers, ranch laborers, nor to the employees of any person, firm or corporation operating any steam, electric, street, or interurban railway as a common carrier. The Joint Committee on Farmworker Insurance was convened to draw up a proposal for legislative adoption that would extend some sort of workers’ compensation coverage to farm and ranch laborers. The committee and its mission were created not because a new era of humanitarianism had swept through the Capitol . and the Governor’s Mansion but because the base of political power in Texas is undergoing a significant shift. During the 68th Legislature and the hearing of the Joint Committee on Farmworker Insurance, it became apparent that workers’ compensation for farmworkers has become a watershed issue for the Texas Farm Bureau and many of its more conservative farm colleagues who, in the past, have played large parts in determining farm and ranch policy in this state. For the Texas Farm Bureau and its allies, the issue of farmworker compensation has become the battle line from which they will wage a last-ditch defense of the old order an order in which they were rarely seriously challenged on farm policy legislation, an order in which most farmworkers still do not receive the federal minimum wage, in which stoop labor has not been abolished, in which farmworkers are ineligible for unemployment compensation, in which there is no moratorium on farm foreclosures. [“The bill that would have provided some kind of artificial support for an agricultural producer who, for whatever reason, whether it was incompetence or what, could not make it in a free enterprise situation was the reason for the Farm Bureau’s lack of support for that foreclosure bill,” declared the Texas Farm Bureau’s Keith Garrison in committee hearings on August 19 in Harlingen, in response to a statement concerning the Farm Bureau’s testimony in opposition to a foreclosure moratorium.] The battle is both ideological and economic. Texas is the second largest agricultural producer in the nation, according to statistics compiled by the U.S. and Texas Departments of Agriculture, with approximately $10 billion worth of agricultural commodites produced. In 1979, large growers Griffin and Brand recorded $34 million in sales, and TexSun recorded $25 million. According to the National Safety Council, there are 54 deaths per 100,000 agricultural workers each year, making agriculture the second most hazardous States. It accounted for 3,500 workrelated deaths in 1979 \(14 % of the 190,000 disabling injuries. When farmers, their families, year-round employees, and seasonal and migrant workers are taken into account, the highest incidence of occupational injury and illness, total lost workdays, and nonfatal cases without workdays lost in any industry occurs in agriculture. Workrelated accident rates for farm workers in Texas is four times the national average for other jobs. According to the Farmworker Advocacy Project of Texas Rural Legal Aid, there are approximately 450,000 migrant and seasonal farmworkers and farmworker family members living and working in Texas. About half of these workers join the migrant work force that harvests fruits and vegetables throughout Texas and in states to the north. Almost half of the Texans living in the Lower Rio Grande Valley make their living by farm work. 92 % of the Texas migrant and seasonal population is Mexican American. In 1980, the average migrant or seasonal farmworker earned $3,500 per year and, due to the seasonal nature of farm work, was unemployed 22 weeks out of each year. The average farmworker family of six earns $7,200 per year, less than 70% of the national poverty line established for farm families. Most farmworker families living in the Valley live in unincorporated communities, called colonias. Over half of the colonias have no treated water, nearly half are without indoor toilets, and 20% have no direct access to safe drinking water. The infant mortality rate among farmworker families is 125 % higher than the national average, while tuberculosis mortality among Texas farmworkers is two-and-one-half times greater than the national average. The life expectancy for the average farmworker is 50 years. “It scans to me,” said Bishop 10 JANUARY 13, 1984