Friday, June 27, 2008

Molly has previously reported on the case of Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez, a farm worker who recently died of heat stroke in California. The following is an appeal from the United Farm Workers in the USA to pressure a customer of the vineyard where she died to demand better labour standards in the fields where their grapes are grown.
Farm worker who died connected to "Two-Buck Chuck."
Take Action Today!
We told you about the tragic death of 17-year-old Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez who died while laboring in a Stockton area vineyard in 100 plus degree heat. According to a Wednesday AP story, the San Joaquin County Coroner has officially confirmed that Maria died of heat stroke. Maria had been working 8 hours in the blistering heat without shade or sufficient water. The closest water supply was a 10 minute walk away. (Click to read Maria's story.)

According to worker charges filed with Cal OSHA, the land owner where Maria suffered heat stroke continues to utilize labor contractors that don't abide by the law. And Friday, a month after Maria's passing, another charge was filed for lack of water and shade at one of the company's locations.

Because Maria worked for a labor contractor, she most likely never knew she was part of the production team for Bronco Winery who is better known for Charles Shaw wines--commonly called "Two-Buck Chuck." This best selling wine is available exclusively at Trader Joe's stores. According to Trader Joe's web site, "these super-value wines began as the result of an oversupply of wine and a great relationship with a valued supplier."

Help us ask Trader Joe's to use their "great relationship" to protect the workers who labor to pick the crop. Ask Trader Joe's to implement a corporate policy to ensure that their suppliers are not violating the law by failing to provide farm workers with basic protections such as cold water, shade and clean bathrooms.

Requests of this type are not new to Trader Joe's. Back in 2005 after the Humane Society and customers expressed concerns, Trader Joe's agreed to sell only cage free eggs under the company's label. We commend Trader Joe's for this corporate responsibility and ask them to do the same for farm workers. After all isn't the life of a farm worker as important as the life of a chicken?

Trader Joe's web site says "we listen to what our customers tell us about the choices we give them." Please ask Trader Joe's to listen and take action today. As the exclusive distributor of Charles Shaw wines, they need to take corporate responsibility before more farm workers, like Maria die due to grower neglect.

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