Amidst the crackdown on undocumented immigrants by the new administration, mushroom farmers in Chester County are rallying behind the immigrant workers in the area, urging for them to be assigned hybrid status, writes Laura Benshoff for NewsWorks.
Immigrant workers are the backbone of Chester County’s mushroom industry, which produces more than half of all the mushrooms grown nationwide. The mushroom industry also pumps close to $2.17 billion through the local economy and employs around 6,100 people each year.
Many other immigrant-owned businesses in the area, including restaurants and services aimed at the Mexican community, are also thriving.
The hourly wage for mushroom pickers varies depending on their picking speed, according to Chris Alonzo, president of Kennett Square’s Pietro Industries. It can range from $8 for slow pickers to $14 for the fastest.
Despite the fact that these agricultural jobs often pay more than minimum wage, they do not attract many American-born workers.
While Alonzo and other mushroom farmers in Chester County say that, to their knowledge, all of their workers have the correct paperwork, they worry that the additional immigration enforcement could affect their businesses.
“There’s uncertainty with businesses; they’ve slowed down their investment in new equipment because we’re unsure of the workforce situation,” he said.
Read more about the issue at NewsWorks here.