10,000 signatures reached
Farm workers are laboring in dangerous wildfire smoke. What is Cal/OSHA doing to protect them?
Farm workers are in grave danger working as, while many of us stay inside during California’s wildfires, they are forced to labor outside in air considered extremely unhealthy. The law says when the air quality index is above 150 the employer MUST provide N95 (or equivalent) masks. This is not happening - and it is your agency’s responsibility to make sure it does. Issuing warnings from your air conditioned building and following up on complaints is not enough. Cal/OSHA needs to be proactively in the fields making sure that the necessary protective gear makes it to the workers.
Why is this important?
UFW is working around the clock to assist farm workers already dealing with repercussions from the pandemic and a dangerous heat wave. Now with the recent wildfires, the danger is escalating.
Cal/OSHA is supposed to be protecting the workers, but according to what we are hearing, many workers just aren’t protected. Legislation passed last year mandates the grower provide N95 or equivalent masks if the Air Quality Index is over 150. Sadly, we are hearing again and again of cases where this just isn’t happening.
According to a poll of farm workers the UFW conducted three days ago, 84% of farm workers have not been given N95 masks from their employers. A KPIX story from earlier this week said, shared the story of Antonia, a Watsonville strawberry picker, who said her employers “do not provide any of the workers with masks, gloves or other protective equipment, which is a violation of California law, according to Cal/OSHA officials.”
The UFW is reaching out to our union growers to ensure they are acting to protect union members—even if it means going above and beyond legal requirements. At contract companies, we are hearing reports of N95 masks being distributed or work being halted. We also regularly communicate with tens of thousands of farm workers, most of them non-union, and enlisting the help of workers and supporters to find and report the locations of violations.
We’ve secured 50,000 N95 masks and will be distributing them -- through our organizers and local groups in fire-affected areas -- to the workers who need them most. We should NOT have to be doing this. It’s the employers’ obligation, and it’s OSHA’s job to make sure they do it.
Cal/OSHA is publicizing what the law is -- but that’s not enough. They need to be proactively in the fields making sure that the necessary protective gear makes it to the workers. Cal/OSHA’s inaction is putting the workers in grave danger.
Sign the petition TODAY. Tell Cal/OSHA they need to be in the fields right now to ensure the people who labor so hard to feed us are kept safe.