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Briefing #3: Dairy Workers in Wisconsin: Tasks, Shifts, Wages, and Benefits
Miscellaneous Publications No. , February 2009
by Jill Harrison, Sarah Lloyd and Trish O'Kane

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This project pays special attention to the important role that Latino immigrants now play in Wisconsin's dairy industry. In this third document, we describe tasks, shifts, wages, and non-wage benefits and compare them across US-born and immigrant employees (and, in some cases, owner-operators). We see a clear difference in the jobs that native and immigrant workers perform on Wisconsin dairy farms. Immigrant workers are more likely to perform entry-level jobs, such as milking and "pushing." Also, immigrant workers are providing the majority of the labor on farms outside of the regular "1st shift." The differences also are seen by farm size, with immigrant labor making up a larger portion of the total labor in all shifts on the larger farms. A crucial question is whether immigrant and US-born employees have the same opportunities to receive raises, to learn new skills, to take on responsibilities, and to otherwise flourish in the workplace. Two factors that undoubtedly shape immigrants' abilities to do so are language barriers and legal status issues.

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