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UFW will ‘sound the alarm’ on suspected heat deaths of farm workers in Kern County area
08/01/2016

11 a.m._on Tuesday in Bakersfield

UFW will ‘sound the alarm’ on suspected heat deaths of farm workers in Kern County area

Bakersfield, Calif.—Amid reports of multiple suspected deaths of farm workers from the heat in and around Kern County, United Farm Workers leaders will “sound the alarm” on proactive steps all employers should immediately take to prevent fatalities and illness when temperatures hit triple digits. The UFW and UFW Foundation are actively investigating reports of as many as three recent fatalities involving farm workers in the Kern County region.

At Tuesday’s event, UFW Secretary-Treasurer Teresa Romero and union National Vice President Erika Navarrete will credit some employers for taking measures to protect workers such as reducing work hours and providing special work breaks, shade and water as required under the state of California’s pioneering heat standards. Romero and Navarrete will also highlight reports from workers that some employers are threatening them with retaliation if they report illnesses or violations of heat rules.

As an example, the UFW will on Tuesday produce a text sent to a table grape worker by the daughter of a farm labor contractor forewoman denouncing the worker in Spanish because she voiced concerns about the heat while laboring at a table grape vineyard outside Richgrove, Calif. “If you can’t put up with the heat…you should not have come [to work],” the forewoman’s daughter texted. “The real truth is you are worth shit. Get to work and don’t be lazy.”

The UFW convinced then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to first issue the heat standards in 2005. Cal-OSHA, the state work safety agency, beefed up the standards in 2015. Enforcement was improved as a result of the settlement of lawsuits in May 2015 between the state of California and farm workers partnering with the UFW.

Who:               UFW Secretary-Treasurer Teresa Romero and union National Vice President Erika Navarrete.

What:              UFW leaders will “sound the alarm” on steps employers should immediately take to prevent deaths and injuries from the heat in the wake of multiple suspected deaths of farm workers in and around Kern County.

When:             11 a.m., Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2016.

Where:            UFW Foundation office, 220 - 18th St., Bakersfield, CA 93301.

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