Saturday, July 11, 2009

The following appeal from the United Farm Workers is a personal one. It's from the niece of Audon Felix who died of heat stroke on February 9, 2008. She adds her voice to others who support the UFW in their campaign to support legislation in the California Assembly that will make it easier for farm workers to organize and thereby prevent future tragedies.

Request from Alma Felix on the anniversary of the heat death of her uncle:
Nearly a year ago I remember sitting at my parents’ dining room table. We had just finished having an early dinner when my mom, dad and myself began talking about the Felix brothers and sisters. (How ironic, right?) We were talking about where everyone was now and what had become of the family after the tragic death of my grandfather who had been killed by a hit and run accident. The phone began to ring and none of us had bothered to pick it up since we were so in depth into our conversation.

It's very rare that I pick up my parents’ home phone...but on this particular day that the phone kept ringing. I picked it up. On the other end was my uncle Raudel, whom we had not spoken to in years.

He asked to speak to my mom and after talking to him for a couple of minutes he broke the news to me about my uncle Audon being in the hospital. A minute later he confessed my uncle had just passed.

How could I tell my mom that one of her baby brother had just passed? How did I become the one to break this news to her? I gave her the news of what seemed to be the most dreadful conversation I've ever had with my mother and right then and there IT HIT ME THAT I HAD LOST MY FAVORITE UNCLE...the one who helped raised me while my mother would be at work, the one who would pick me up from school and the one to always give me my "domingo" because I WAS his favorite little niece.

That same day I looked up information about my uncle's death and noticed that the UFW had immediately began with providing information to the public. I e-mailed the UFW to thank them for what they had begun to do. For that MY FAMILIA and I thank you ALL tremendously for what you have done, not only for my uncle, but for those who have died a preventable death.

Thank you all for reaching out to us in a very personal level and know that this has helped us with dealing with my uncle's death. I have made it now my personal mission to educate those who I cross paths with because I have learned that by educating/informing one person I have reached five!The UFW is working on a bill that would give farm workers like my uncle a voice in the fields. It could help stop more preventable heat deaths like my uncle’s so other families don’t have to suffer like ours. The bill SB789, CA Employee Free Choice Act for Farm Workers passed the Assembly appropriations last week. It can soon be voted on by the full Assembly and then go to CA Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The Governor has talked a lot about how he cares about this issue, but his actions have not shown it. Farm workers like my uncle are dying due to heat. Violations of safety laws--like water and shade--in the fields occur way too much. It has to change. I can't bear the thought of more families dealing with what we had to.

Please help. Send CA Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger an e-mail today and tell him to pass this bill. GRACIAS for all that you've done!Alma Felix & Familia
Please go to the link above to send the following letter to California Governor Arnold Schwartenegger.
It is simply unacceptable that 15 farm workers have died due to heat since the summer of 2004. We need your help to do more to prevent unnecessary deaths this year. Having laws on the books that are often unenforced is not enough. Please sign SB789, a bill that will give farm workers the power to protect themselves.

Today I join with the UFW and thousands of others to mourn the anniversary of the passing of Audon Felix Garcia, Ramiro Carillo Rodriguez, Salud Zamudio Rodriguez and Ramon Hernandez.

* Audon Felix Garcia, 42, died July 9, 2008 - Audon died while working for Sunview Vineyards in Arvin. After loading grapes in 108 degree temperatures, Audon and a coworker were driving the fruit to a cold storage facility when he collapsed. The co-worker called 911 but when the ambulance arrived, Audon was not breathing. He died at the hospital where his body temperature was recorded at 108 degrees. Audon was married and the father of 3 children.
* Ramiro Carrillo Rodriguez, 48, died July 10, 2008 - The father of two children, Ramiro picked nectarines for Sun Valley Packing in Reedley. After working all morning in temperatures that reached 112 degrees, he complained of feeling ill and was left to rest under a tree for two hours. Eventually the foreman took Ramiro home where he lost consciousness. "Why did no one run over to help him in an emergency?" asked his grieving sister Natividad. "Maybe his life could have been saved." Ramiro died on the way to the hospital.
* Salud Zamudio-Rodriguez, 42, died July 13, 2005 -Salud was stricken while laboring in the pepper fields near Arvin, CA, as he tried to keep pace with a work speed-up in 105 degree heat. On this day, the grower's foreman doubled the usual pace. A few minutes before his shift ended, Salud became delirious, began to shake violently and then walked up to his boss and collapsed.The boss tried to bring him around by fanning him with his hat. Salud was subsequently moved to some shade under an almond tree and workers insisted that an ambulance be called. It took 30 minutes for help to arrive but by then it was too late. "We watched him die in the field," said one of the workers who was there that day.
* Ramon Hernandez, 42, died July 14, 2005- Ramon's desiccated body was discovered in a melon field near the west Fresno County town of Huron in California's Central Valley.

Please support SB789, CA Employee Free Choice Act for Farm Workers (Steinberg). This important bill will make it easier for farm workers to organize and enforce the laws that California's government is not enforcing.

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