Ethnic Differences in Job Quality Among Contract Forest Workers
For more than a decade, the Forest Service and community-based forestry organizations have sought to create high quality jobs in public lands communities restoring national forests. The strategy has been for the federal government to hire local contractors to undertake restoration and maintenance activities such as decommissioning roads, building and maintaining trails, restoring natural streams, thinning overstocked forest stands, and collecting data for monitoring. With this work, advocates have sought to create a restoration and maintenance industry that offers rural communities quality jobs. These jobs would ideally provide not only high wages, but also dependable local employment opportunities close to home. Critics of these efforts have argued that this strategy ignores the existence of a mobile, Hispanic forestry services workforce. This workforce, they point out, undertakes the most laborious forestry restoration and maintenance tasks in the poorest working conditions. Critics fear that strategies focused on local workers neglect the working conditions and needs of these mobile workers. Although this debate has gone on for some time, there has been little systematic, quantified information about the working conditions of forest workers, regardless of their ethnicity. To address this debate, this study set out to compare the working conditions of Hispanic and white workers.
- EWP Briefing Papers