Saturday, July 12, 2008

Four Farm Workers in Two Weeks Die from Heat Stroke

I had intended to write something about this on Thursday, when the death toll was at three. Now, just a few days later, it's up to four farm workers in California dead from heat stroke. The tragedy in this is there are laws in place to protect the workers, but they are not being enforced.

From a United Farm Workers Action Alert:

Ramiro Carrillo Rodriguez, 48, father of two, died in Selma, CA on Thursday afternoon after working all day for Sun Valley Packing in Reedley thru a farm labor contractor. Ramiro had complained of being sick from the heat. He was taken home by his foreman. He passed out almost as soon as he got in the house. By the time an ambulance got there he was dead on arrival. He leaves behind two children ages 13 and 16.

Ramiro's death makes two farm workers dying of heatstroke last week, four farm worker heat deaths in the last 8 weeks and the 13th farm worker heat death since CA Governor Schwarzenegger took office.

Ramiro Carrillo Rodriguez's death follows the deaths of 42 year-old farm worker Abdon Felix Garcia, father of three, who died on Wednesday after spending the morning and early afternoon working for Sunview Vineyards in Arvin. The coroner says Felix's body core temperature was measured at 108 degrees just 13 minutes before his death. 64 year-old Jose Macarena Hernandez died during a record-breaking heat wave on June 20 while harvesting butternut squash in Santa Maria on land owned by Sunrise Growers. UFW President Arturo Rodriguez attended his funeral yesterday. And then there was the heat death of 17 year-old Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez who died while laboring in the Stockton area grape vines.

Governor Schwarzenegger came to Maria Isabel's funeral and said he would do everything possible to prevent this from happening again. Has he done everything he can? With the recent deaths of Ramiro Carrillo Rodriguez, Abdon Felix Garcia and Jose Hernandez it is clear the state does not have the capacity to protect farm workers.

As California's summer sizzles we must do everything we can to insure that no more farm workers fall victim to the heat because the laws written to protect them are not enforced. Speaker Emeritus Fabian Nunez has introduced legislation which has moved out of the assembly and which is now in the state senate. It will make it easier for farm workers to organize and enforce the laws that the state cannot enforce.

Please take action immediately and click to fax California Gov. Schwarzenegger (if you live in California, a cc of your message will also be e-mailed to your legislators) and tell them something needs to be done NOW. It’s time to put a law in place that will allow farm workers to protect themselves!

Employers are required by the state to provide outdoor workers with access to at least a quart of fresh water per hour and a shaded area where they can take a five-minute rest and recovery breaks when they are having symptoms of heat illness. Employees and supervisors are also supposed to be trained in heat illness prevention, but that doesn't appear to be happening.

The action alert included the following news reports:

07/11/2008 - KCOY: Heat wave victim laid to rest.
07/11/2008 - Bakersfield Californian: Possible heat death prompts questions from local lawmaker
07/11/2008 - KSBY: Santa Maria family searches for answers in death of field worker
07/11/2008 - Third, Possible Heat-Related Farmworker Death Investigated
07/11/2008 -Sacramento Bee: State investigating third farmworker fatality in scorching weather
07/10/2008 - KGET: Heat Death Victim Identified
07/10/2008 - Bakersfield Californian: Farm workers union complains about heat-related deaths

Show your support for the United Farm Workers.



FranIAm said...

This is an outrage, a tragedy.

Ironically I was just over at Quaker Dave's reading his post on this topic. He has been running one each time it happens.

We are so lost as a nation, my heart breaks.

This cannot be be. We must all show support and take action.

Sue J said...

Thank you for posting about this. There is an entire subculture in this country that most of America chooses to ignore. The fact that they are dying while working to provide the food on our tables is shameful.

BAC said...

It is shameful. We should be thanking the hard-working people who help put food on our tables, not discussing how to build walls to keep them out.


dguzman said...

Thanks for this post, BAC. This kind of tragedy has been happening forever, but at least these days people are finally paying attention to this forgotten and ignored group of people. Let's hope this attention brings about some change.