San Joaquin Valley, California, April 9, 1940.
Scenes near the camp of a labor contractor. The labor of the young agricultural worker is contracted for, but his spare time is wasted. Living in the contractor's camp, paying the contractor for his tent and camping facilities in deductions from his pay, the young migratory agricultural worker becomes a commodity which the contractor sells to the highest bidder among the small farmers anxious to procure extra labor with which to harvest their crops. These pictures were taken in the vicinity of a Copus camp, a labor contractor operating in a number of California crop centers and in Idaho, Utah, and Colorado. Only those workers who have been issued "Copus Crew" buttons identifying them as "paying guests" of the Copus Camp (they rent tents and ground space) are entitled to employment in a Copus contracted field. But the possession of a button is not assurance of immediate work. Arriving at the scene of work promised by the contractor, the young migrant may have to wait a week or more until the crop comes in and is ready to pick. Meanwhile idling, isolation, indentured boredom.