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California Migrant Laborers Dying in Severe Heat


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Migrant Laborers Dying in Severe Heat

Alternet.com is connecting the dots, and has noticed an alarming trend. Migrant workers are dropping like flies in 100+ degree heat and few seem to care.

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.

The site noted that with even more extreme heat on it's way in California's central valley, there could be a surge in farm worker deaths, unless there is stronger enforcement of labor laws designed to prevent heat related deaths.

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 going over well with farmers with field workers.

Symptoms of global warming are exacerbated by the chemical pesticides used in the fields, while undocumented farmworkers who come to the U.S. to earn more money are deemed "illegal aliens" and denied basic human rights while putting food on our tables. With multiple factors in play, it's no wonder the average citizen doesn't know much about the food he or she consumes, who helped bring it to market or even why undocumented people are driven to work in such extreme heat.

From the story, Alternet reports that workers are only given minimal sun protection, with the use of small umbrellas. Water is often not provided, and the water that is at the field is often far away from the work area, and may very well be warm from the scorching sun.

For more on this story, and how Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed the Fair Treatment for Farmworkers Act. visit alternet.org


 


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