As Ventura County wildfires continue and spread while thousands of farm workers still labor in strawberry and celery fields, staff with the United Farm Workers and UFW Foundation are distributing thousands of protective masks and educating people about the dangers of poor air quality, workers’ rights and availability of disaster relief.
Dozens of concerned field workers called the UFW’s Oxnard office last week and organizers began reaching out to workers at both unionized and non-union farms, encouraging them to exercise their right to protect themselves under California’s farm labor. It protects workers who come together to take action involving job site issues.
This week the UFW and UFW Foundation is continuing to distribute more than 5,000 masks from the California Department of Social Services along with instructions on how to properly wear them and the dangers of smoke inhalation. Staff is also reaching out to farm worker and immigrant communities to assess their needs. They are informing people about their rights and smoke-related hazards, including posting infographics and updates on social media about evacuations, fire containment, water advisories and outreach activities.
They are also beginning to pre-screen workers and residents to determine their eligibility for potential disaster relief. UFW Foundation staff are reporting back to state officials about on-the-ground needs they are seeing.
Farm workers can phone the UFW Oxnard office at 805-486-9674. All farm worker and immigrant community members seeking help with unemployment insurance or safety net assistance and disaster relief can call the UFW Foundation at 805-246-3867. People can also go in person to the UFW/UFW Foundation office at 920 South “A” St., Oxnard, Calif. 93030.
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