Monday, October 18, 2010


Down in California the Lieutenant Governor Abel Maldonado is setting a rather bad public example in regards to worker safety at his own farm. Here's the story and appeal from the United Farm Workers.

Take action against serious safety violations at California's Lt. Governor's strawberry farm

Los Angeles Times, October 15, 2010
Lieutenant governor's family farm has had many safety violations

A worker at Abel Maldonado's 6,000-acre Santa Maria operation was crushed by a tractor. The firm has had numerous other Cal/OSHA citations, plus tax liens. The Republican says some citations stemmed from overzealous regulation that harms California businesses.
Click for full story

Today's Los Angeles Times reported serious workplace violations and a farm worker death at Lt. Governor Maldonado's strawberry farm. Please read the below action alert and then immediately "take action" and send a e-mail to Lt. Governor Abel Maldonado.

With as many as 16 farm worker deaths due to heat illness alone during Governor Schwarzenegger's administration, the report of a farm worker death at Maldonado's farm is of deep concern.

According to the Los Angeles Times, "the run-in with regulators was part of a pattern for Agro-Jal Farming Enterprises, the farm in Santa Maria that pays Maldonado a six-figure salary to serve as controller. Maldonado, a telegenic former state senator, is running for the seat Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed him to earlier this year.

Agro-Jal has accumulated dozens of violations from Cal/OSHA since 1990, hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax liens, and multiple citations for exposing workers to toxic pesticides and skirting clean water regulations, government records show. Four of the violations were for running tractors across the fields with no driver at the wheel and no means of steering or stopping the machines.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the lieutenant governor said in an e-mail, "that many of the violations against the farm are the product of overzealous regulators 'who put businesses out of business and dissuade new businesses from coming to California.'"

Lt. Governor Maldonado frequently serves as acting Governor. We need confidence that Lt. Governor Maldonado will be enforcing the law and ensuring the safety of farm workers laboring in California's fields--including his own.

Please e-mail Lt. Governor Maldonado today and encourage him to meet with UFW President Arturo Rodriguez so they can discuss how Lt. Governor Maldonado can support labor protections for farm workers that have real teeth in them.
Please go to this link to end the following letter to Lieutenant Governor Maldonado of California.

Dear Lt. Governor Maldonado:

I was concerned to read today's Los Angeles times story entitled, "Lieutenant governor's family farm has had many safety violations."

In this story, you are quoted as saying, “My family never forgets that we started out as field hands.” We are writing to ask that you have an opportunity to put that memory to productive use.

It has been good politics for the Governor to allow you to take executive action when he is out of the state. Irrespective of the outcome of the November 2 election, you will have that opportunity again in the upcoming months.

While the Times reported that you assign blame for your farm’s repeated safety violations to “overzealous regulators”, our experience has been much different.

More farm workers have died from abuse at work under Governor Schwarzenegger than under any other Governor in California’s history.

We fail to see the overzealous regulators you refer to. Rather, the record points to unrepentant agricultural employers.

That record of 16 dead farm workers killed by heat, no one in jail, and fines lower than those for reckless driving indicate to us that regulations don’t work because meaningful punishment is never the consequence.

Would your farm have had a heat-illness prevention plan in place if the fine were $9,300 instead of $930?

We ask that at your earliest convenience you meet with United Farm Worker President Arturo Rodriguez. In this meeting we hope you will discuss several steps you can take as acting-Governor to honor the memory of Raul Garcia Osorno who died on your farm.

Thank you.

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