United Farm Workers

This is an email I received from the United Farm Workers, which I would categorize under
the politics of food. The email margins do not line up with my margins, so I apologize for
any reading inconvenience.


UFW sues State of California for systematic failure to enforce heat regulations

Monday, October 22, 2012 5:19 PM
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UFW sues State of California for systematic failure to enforce heat regulations

Last Thursday, our lawyers filed suit against the State of California and its Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (Cal-OSHA) for its “systematic failure” to enforce the regulation that requires growers to provide water, shade and rest to their employees in order to prevent heat illness or death. Your donation can help.

Our current lawsuit follows our other lawsuit in 2009. The new lawsuit includes evidence from 2011 and 2012, which shows Cal-OSHA’s failure is not a thing of the past, but persists today.

Cal/OSHA itself, in a press release this summer, estimated that employers fail to comply with the heat illness prevention regulation in 1 out of every 4 instances, leaving more than 156,000 farm workers at risk.

Natividad Carrillo is one of the workers joining us in this lawsuit. Her brother, Ramiro Carrillo,
died of heat stroke after picking nectarines in 112 degree weather in Fresno County.

We have evidence that Romiro Carrillo’s employer did not provide any shade and did
not seek any medical attention for him when he was dying. She tells us,
My brother died because of heat. Right now I am picking olives in the fields
and things are still bad. Temperatures rose to 108-111 degrees this summer
and the water they gave us was dirty and undrinkable. There was no shade for us.

Margarita Bautista’s mother, Maria de Jesus Bautista, died in July 2008 working in the fields
of the Coachella Valley, where temperatures regularly soar over 100 degrees. This July, we were
all disturbed when we received a call from Margarita’s cousin, Martin Bautista.
He told us that his friend had died working in 90+ degree heat in the Coachella Valley.
This case is one of the 4 cases being investigated this year
.
Margarita wants to make sure losses like her family’s don’t happen to any other family,
so she is a plaintiff and vocal proponent of the lawsuit.

California’s farm workers are dying because our state has a system that does not enforce
preventive measures and leaves workers dramatically at risk.

The lawsuit accuses Cal/OSHA of a series of “systematic failures” to enforce the
Heat Illness Prevention regulation as it is required to do under the California Labor Code.
They include:

  • Failure to conduct on-site inspections for complaints;
  • Failure to evaluate the conditions alleged in a complaint when it does conduct
    inspections;
  • Failure to issue citations for serious, repeat, or willful violations of the Heat Illness
    Prevention regulation that it has found to exist;
  • Failure to investigate the causes of potentially heat-related injuries and fatalities and to
    evaluate the conditions involved in such incidents;
  • Failure to conduct re-inspections or penalize an employer’s failure to accomplish and
    certify abatement of violations of the Heat Illness Prevention regulation, effectively
    providing free passes to employers that choose not to comply with the law;
  • Failure to initiate investigations into serious heat complaints against agricultural employers
    within three days, which is especially critical in this highly mobile industry where work sites
    and workers may migrate miles each day;
  • Failure to impose and collect meaningful penalties for violation of the Heat Illness Prevention
    regulation.

Our organizers have documented many situations like this, filed many charges and need to
continue to do so.
Can you help fund this team? Your donation will both strengthen our lawsuit and allow
us to do everything we can to keep farm workers safe.


https://secure.ufw.org/page/contribute/heatls

United Farm Workers,  P.O. Box 62, Keene, CA 93531, http://www.ufw.org

P.S. To me, the poor treatment of our farm workers is a crime! I have been receiving pictures
of the living conditions of these workers & they look like third world countries. We depend
on these people for our food and their treatment needs to be publicized more. Please
share this.
(I put some info in red for emphasis.)

ellensue

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