What if Arnold had to do his governating in 100+ degree weather with no water and constant threats of deportation or arrest?

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.


2 thoughts on “What if Arnold had to do his governating in 100+ degree weather with no water and constant threats of deportation or arrest?”

  1. Seems pretty hypocritical that most who bemoan “illegals” are all too willing to reap the benefits of an exploitive labor systems.

    Isn’t that the truth right there. We are so completely dependent upon their labor and yet we treat them as less than. In the Niagara Region where I live our wine industry is completely dependent upon migrant workers and yet the attitude towards them is disgusting. Somehow place of birth is used as justification for treating people as less than. It is more western avarice to believe that we have the right to exploit others for our own comfort. I have repeatedly pointed out that when we consume objects like bananas for instance at 29 cents per pound it means that someone did not get paid. This sense of entitlement has got to stop because not only is it murderous to people who must perform the labor it is disrespectful of the planet.

  2. Renee,
    Thanks for your comment. Your point about entitlement reminds me of bell hooks examination of entitlement. She talks mainly of white, male entitlement but I think her points can easily be expanded to what you are getting at — the stance that one is entitled to cheep food, wine, and labor…

    I was sad to hear that the wine industry in the Niagra Region feeds off the same exploitation as here in Calif. Sadly it seems like most food and drink–from chocolate to bananas to coffee–is made possible via the exploitation of workers and the planet.

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