United Farm Workers President Teresa Romero and UFW Foundation Executive Director Diana Tellefson Torres issued the following statement after today’s introduction of the Asuncion Valdivia Heat Illness and Fatality Prevention Act by U.S. Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) and U.S. Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.):
We have attended the funerals of too many farm workers who needlessly died from extreme heat. In 2005, the UFW, working with representative Chu —at the time a member of the California State Assembly— convinced Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to issue the first comprehensive standards in the nation protecting California farm and other outdoor workers from the heat. Later in 2015, we worked with Democratic Governor Jerry Brown to strengthen these rules and their enforcement. Those standards have saved countless lives and now must be taken nationwide.
Today we applaud representatives Chu and Grijalva’s introduction of the Asuncion Valdivia Heat Illness and Fatality Prevention Act, named for a farm worker who perished from the heat. It will finally extend heat-illness preventative measures to all U.S. workers by creating a federal standard for heat stress protections both for indoor and outdoor environments.
As temperatures continue soaring, farm workers all over the country deserve to be protected from the dangers of heat. Immediate action is needed to stop unnecessary deaths by creating national heat rules such as those we won in California that clearly define workers’ rights to have access to water, shade, rest breaks and trainings.
We thank representatives Chu, Grijalva, Workforce Protections Subcommittee Chairwoman Alma Adams (D-N.C.), and Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-Va.) who are leading this legislative effort.