The United Farm Workers reported yesterday that another farm worker, Abdon Felix Garcia, died due to heat stroke after working all day for Sunview Vineyards in Arvin, California. Garcia’s death is the third in the last 8 weeks and the 12th since the governator has been in office. On June 20, Jose Macarena Hernandez died harvesting butternut squash in record-breaking heat. Also in June, Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez died after working for many hours with no water.
The governator attended Vasquez’s funeral where he promised to do everything possible to protect farm workers. Apparently, everything possible is zilch.
I wonder, might things change more rapidly if the governator was forced to work for twelve hours plus in the baking sun with no water, breaks, or restroom facilities? Or what if he had to commute to work on foot, under the fear of arrest or deportation, rather in an air-conditioned Hummer? Might he then be a little quicker to mandate workers have access to water?
Or, how about if the Minute Men as they patrol the border zone were barred from drinking any water, were not allowed to eat, and had bosses who threatened violence or arrest if they made any fuss? Maybe they could just go without all the food and drinks (not only butternut squash and Two Buck Chuck, but also lettuce, tomatoes, strawberries, etc) that are available to do the backbreaking, life-threatening labor of farm workers. Sorry minute men, no veggies or fruit for you. (Seems pretty hypocritical that most who bemoan “illegals” are all too willing to reap the benefits of an exploitive labor systems.)
These latest the three deaths were all easily preventable. How hard would it be to supply workers with water, food, and rest? Not hard at all. But, then, Two Buck Chuck (and the corporatist food industrial complex as a whole) might not make such a profit margin.
Which is worth more: prices kept low on the backs of other humans or the ability to drink copious amounts of cheap wine and eat cheap vegetables while bemoaning “those illegals”? (A woman I know once whisked away a dinner guest’s salad when he made a disparaging comment about farm workers-she told him that if he would like a taste of the labor his comments belittled, to stand up from the table and bend over to the ground 30 times in a order to partly simulate the labor it took for his plate of salad).
If you would like to email the governator and other California legislators to call for more equitable working conditions or laws to protect farm workers, go here. If you would like to read more about Two Buck Chuck and Trader Joe’s complicity with the exploitation of farm workers, see WOC PhD’s posts here and here.