How Many More Workers Will We Let Die in the Fields This Summer?
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Jul. 23rd, 2008 | 04:48 pm
posted by: jacksmoderator in corporatenews
A week ago, 46-year-old Ramiro Carrillo passed away at his Selma, CA home after picking nectarines for about four hours in 112-degree heat at Sun Valley Packing. Two weeks ago 42-year-old Abdon Felix died after working in the fields at Sunview Vineyards near Delano, California. His body temperature was 108 degrees when he arrived at the hospital. Last month Jose Macarena, 64, collapsed in a field in Santa Barbara County and later died during a 110-degree day. Back in May, 17-year-old Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez, who was two months pregnant, died in a vineyard near Stockton, after working eight hours in the heat without adequate water or shade. When she collapsed, the labor contractors who hired her opted to not rush her to the hospital and instead attempted to cool her off in a car by putting rubbing alcohol on her skin.
As we enter the dog days of summer, we should expect more days of 100-degree temperatures in the Central Valley of California and other agricultural regions. With the extreme heat, we'll see more farmworker deaths as well, unless there is stronger enforcement of labor laws designed to prevent heat related deaths.
Kerry Trueman of the Huffington Post recently connected the dots between global warming and heat-related deaths in the fields. The EPA has given contradictory statements about whether global warming poses a health risk to humans - it's stated that there isn't a connection between increased and man-made global warming, and it's said that we must regulate green house gases under the Clean Air Act. The valleys of California have trapped smog for as long as residents have been heating and cooking with fire. With the addition of the automobile, millions of people, and industrial farming techniques, the valleys have come to feel like ovens, especially during the summer months. The Central Valley is also experiencing one of the driest seasons on record since 1962. In late June, Governor Schwarzenegger declared a statewide drought. The National Weather Service is recommending that people use swimming pools and drink plenty of water to avoid heat related illness, but it seems that this message isn't resonating with the farmers or labor contractors. Not everyone in sunny California has a swimming pool.
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