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Migrant Oregon

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Farmworkers who travel hundreds of miles to Oregon to find work in the Willamette Valley often endure the hardships of labor camps.

During summer 1988, I joined members of Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste (PCUN, or Northwest Treeplanters and Farmworker's United) on visits to camps in the Salem, Mount Angel, Silverton and Woodburn areas. With assistance from union organizers Ramon Ramirez (currently president of the union) and Leoni Bicchierri, we talked with workers and photographed them living in abandoned automobiles and crowded shacks, motels, and trash-filled camps, their sweltering barracks cramped with bunks cushioned with thin rug pads to support backs in need of rest. In old abandoned cars, long overdue for the scrap yard, workers stretched out in the tattered, moldy seats for which they paid rent to the camp "motel" owner.

Nearby in the same camp lot was a house where a man and woman or perhaps even their children could throw down sleeping bags in one of the crowded rooms. At another barracks near Mt. Angel stood men whose beds were a few yards from open garbage pits dug next to drinking water and outdoor cooking grills.

Sadly, despite improvements in worker housing more than two decades later, the same kind of photographs can still be made.

John Bauguess

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Photographer - John Bauguess
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Slide 1

After day of field work, men rest in crowded barracks on industrial farm near Woodburn, Oregon. Bunk beds are supplied with thin pieces of carpet.
© 1988 John Bauguess

Slide 2

Workers rest at camp near Woodburn, Oregon.
© 1988 John Bauguess

Slide 3

Crowded barracks on industrial farm near Woodburn, Oregon. Temperature inside the barracks is 90 degrees.
© 1988 John Bauguess

Slide 4

Camp near Woodburn supplied with laundry line and rudimentary recreation area.
© 1988 John Bauguess

Slide 5

Workers play basketball at car camp near Woodburn, Oregon.
© 1988 John Bauguess

Slide 6

Migrant workers pay rent to live in these vehicles, rain or shine, near Woodburn, Oregon.
© 1988 John Bauguess

Slide 7

Car camp in abandoned car near Woodburn, Oregon.
© 1988 John Bauguess

Slide 8

Farmworkers at rest at car camp near Woodburn, Oregon.
© 1988 John Bauguess

Slide 9

Far from their native homes, farmworkers find companionship in a parking area in a car camp near Woodburn, Oregon.
© 1988 John Bauguess

Slide 10

Late afternoon nap in agricultural fields at pay-to-sleep car camp near Woodburn, Oregon, 1988.
© 1988 John Bauguess

Slide 11

Shelter at camp near Woodburn, Oregon.
© 1988 John Bauguess

Slide 12

Migrant children and mother at apartment in Woodburn, Oregon.
© 1988 John Bauguess

Slide 13

Van used as shelter at car camp near Woodburn, Oregon. Decaying flowers and a poster of paradise adorn the walls.
© 1988 John Bauguess

Slide 14

Migrant workers from Oaxaca in barracks near Silverton, Oregon.
© 1988 John Bauguess

Slide 15

Workers from Oaxaca stand at migrant camp wash station and trash pit outside barracks near Mt. Angel, Oregon.
© 1988 John Bauguess

Slide 16

Waiting at the shower line at a car camp near Woodburn, Oregon.
© 1988 John Bauguess

Maintained by: David McCallum, mccallum@uoregon.edu
Last Modified: 01/11/2012