Sunday, November 11, 2007
USA/UNITED FARM WORKERS:
WORKING UNDER THE GUN; IT'S NOT JUST AN EXPRESSION:
Workers of Starrh and Starrh Cottojn Growers- a large cotton, hay and almond producer in California- need your help. They need you to email Cal OSHA immediately and tell them to investigate the violations at the ranch right away and prosecute the company to the fullest extent of the law. When you hear what the workers' lives are like, you will be horrified...and furious. Please take a moment to help these workers by sending your email today.
"I have been working for Starrh and Starrh for five years", Alejandro Giol told us. "The working conditions are awful. We are exposed to a lot of dust, and we do not have protection. In the last two or three days, I have been feeling again in my chest and my back when I breathe....The owner's brother-in-law always puts pressure on the workers. He wants more production. The brother-in-law always carries a gun in his waist to scare workers.
We never had bathrooms, fresh water or water to wash our hands. Sometimes we do not get any breaks. They put a lot of pressure on us to work faster. When I helped them packing hay, I worked up to 16 hours without any breaks.", said Geraldo Negrete. "I am a sprayer and they do not give us what we need to protect ourselves from the chemicals. I ave sprayed pesticide without gloves, masks or overalls. They only give those to us when we are close to roads where maybe some inspectors can see us. ...Thew foremen make fun of us for not having the protection we need.
Franscisco Vilasafia, another 20 year employee reports, "The foreman is abusive. Not only does he humiliate us, but he does not provide us with fresh water-he actually drinks our water."
Listening to these workers makes us wonder if we have stepped into a time warp. Really, how can this happen in 2007 ? There are laws that say that workers need breaks for meals and to rest. There are laws that say that workers must have clean water to drink, and protection from sun and extreme heat. There are laws that say that workers must have bathrooms-for their own health- and that of the consumers who eat the food that comes from these fields.
Please send an email to California OSHA- the agency responsible for protecting farm workers and enforcing these laws-and tell them tom investigate these violations immediately and prosecute the company to the fullest extent of the law.
To sign up for this campaign go to http://www.ufwaction.org/campaign/gun or http://www.ufwaction.org/campaign/gun/5uuwwur9mjenkb? .
Molly Note- campaigns like these are valuable even if they are "merely" campaigns to force companies to obey the law as it is, the "law" being accepted community standards. Sometimes these campaigns will succeed and sometimes they will fail. Molly has had an interesting exchange with a supporter of Metro Lighting in California on this matter. Of course the person who replied to this blog declaimed any "ownership" of Metro Lighting who are subject of an IWW dispute down there in lotus land California. He, of course, carefully avoided the question of "personal friendship" with the owners, the only rational explanation as to why somebody would roam the internet and "try" to reply to criticisms of a business. The ONLY other explanation is insanity. Now... Molly tried to reply to the nut with a rather rhetorical explanation of how "government" sponsored "inspections" are flawed. The nut (or friend of the owner of Metro-Lighting) decided to dodge this question and throw "green rhetoric" back my way. How this connects is the "limitations" of trying merely to pressure corrupt "protection" (does this have a mafia ring to it ?) agencies to enforce inadequate laws. The syndicalist response is that all such maneuvers are merely slight tactical feints. They try to improve workers' conditions. Sometimes they succeed which is all to the good, but more importantly they say to people that they have to "work" for the improvement of their lives and not trust to government saviours. Fighting for legal rights that are never granted gives people a lesson in the nature of government that no amount of rhetoric could provide.