Although the exploitation of Latino workers in many industries is well known, pineros – Latino forest workers – toil largely in obscurity. Brinda Sarathy investigates how the US federal government came to be one of the country’s largest employers of Latino labour, and documents pinero wages and working conditions in comparison to those of white forest labourers. Pinero exploitation, Sarathy argues, is the product of an ongoing history of institutionalized racism in the West. Overcoming this legacy depends on improving the visibility and working conditions of pineros and providing them with a stronger voice in immigration and forestry policy-making.
Brinda Sarathy is an assistant professor of environmental analysis at Pitzer College in Claremont, California.