Another Farm Worker dies. Does anyone give a damn?

I have been writing for months on the deaths of farmwokers in California from the heat.

United Farm Workers Calls for Manslaughter Charges Against Company in Death of 17 Year Old  

How many Farmworkers must die before someone cares??

Please Tell Fallen Farm Worker’s Family We Care

“How much is the life of a farm worker worth? Is it less than the life of any other human being?”

Another farm worker died from the heat today.  5 in the last three months.

Come around after the fold for the sad news.  

Heatstroke Claims Life of 14th Farm Worker;

Jorge Herrera Had Been Hospitalized Since July 9

Bakersfield ??? Jorge Herrera, 37, died Thursday afternoon at San Joaquin Community Hospital. He had been hospitalized since July 9 after collapsing due to heatstroke.

Herrera had been loading table grapes at Vignolo Vineyards. During the past two weeks he had shown slight signs of improvement but had suffered kidney failure and brain damage and remained in critical condition. He had a core body temperature of 108 degrees when he was taken to the hospital.

Originally from El Triunfo, Michoacan, Herrera leaves his wife and two young children who live in Delano.

His death marks the 14th death of a farm worker due to heat-related illness since Gov. Schwarzenegger took office.

This summer will be remembered as the black summer for farm workers. Jorge’s death marks the fifth worker to die in just under three months. How many more must die or fall gravely ill before the Governor realizes not enough is being done to protect farm workers,” said Arturo S. Rodriguez, UFW President.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Heatstroke Claims Life of 14th Farm Worker

As UFW President Arturo S. Rodriguez said at the funeral of 17-year-old Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez:

How much is the life of a farm worker worth? Is it less than the life of any other human being?

Years ago Bobby Kennedy marched with the farmworkers.  

Now we must help them.

This is the only answer, the only way to save lives:

We know there are 600,000 farm workers toiling on 80,000 farms, frequently moving from place to place and victimized by a corrupt farm labor contractor system that shields the wealthy from responsibility.

There has never been adequate enforcement of laws protecting farm workers, under either Democratic or Republican administrations.

This governor issued the heat regulation in 2005, after three previous governors refused to act. Yet Governor Schwarzenegger is well aware of the limits of government. One of those limits is that even legal protections issued by a well-meaning governor mean little if we cannot give farm workers a way to use our good laws to protect themselves.

Our union has always believed that given the chance, farm workers could solve their own problems by organizing themselves and winning UFW contracts.

Where farm workers are protected by union contracts, the laws are honored.

And when growers know it is easier for farm workers to organize and bring in the union, employers are much more careful about obeying the law because they don’t want to give the union an advantage.

So the answer, sisters and brothers, is self-help-making it easier for farm workers to organize so the laws on the books are the laws in the fields. Then more important human beings like Maria Isabel won’t have to die.  

Remarks by Arturo S. Rodriguez, President, United Farm Workers of America, Honoring Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez, June 4, 2008-State Capitol, Sacramento

Go to United Farm Workers.  Sign up to get emails.  Donate what you can.  We have to stop the continuing loss of life.  It’s a moral imperative.  We cannot let this continue.


Yesterday we mourned,

Today we act,

Tomorrow we will gain justice.

9 comments

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    • TomP on August 1, 2008 at 9:39 pm
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    the farm workers

  1.   I hate to say this but personal experience tells me that the San Joaquin Community Hospital probably didn’t/doesn’t really give a damn. If they can tell someone who’s going into Anaphylatic shock to take a seat god only knows how this poor guy was treated.

  2. I fear running out of them.

    Cesar Chavez, all those years ago…and I was once soundly berated in a seminar on “progress”, for suggesting that it is, ultimately, an illusion.

    I’m not a believer in a “capitalist conspiracy” to relegate all workers to a servile, “consumable” status, but only because all my larnin’ and experience convince me that no group with more than about five members has ever been known to succeed in implementing any given plan or, for that matter, to have agreed on what that plan might be.  I do, however, believe in an amorphous community of interest among the “ruling” (i.e. exploitative) class:  when you’ve crapped on everybody else, you must fear retribution, and deprivation of all forms of recourse, whether by political action or through enforced destitution, is the only realistic means of defense.  At this point, I’m not sure greed is the driver any longer behind the burgeoning Gini coefficient and the development of a huge under-class:  workers with free will and access to disposable income constitute a huge threat to those who have done them down; serfs do not.

  3. is still slavery and it’s alive and well. Farm workers do the jobs that no American want to do, they say. Wow! As consumers we seem to not give a rats ass about who or how we get our stuff from be it food clothes or energy you name we want it and as long as were shoveled the goods at a cheap price it’s a ‘free market’. Organizing is important so is educating people about labor, all labor, globally.

    The God of profit does not consider human life as anything but a – in their profit column and we just accept this as progress. We are entitled to cheap shit and these are necessary ills which enable us to our entitled life styles. As workers ourselves we should see the danger in this and realize that a system that places human misery and death as a necessary cost of business has your job in it’s sites. But hey were capitalists it’s the best as it makes people able to belong to the ownership class and rise to the top. sorry to rave but this is at the very heart of why we as a nation suck globally and here.            

  4. who make it happen.  How can a business, any business, continue to profit, without the “heart” and “effort” of it’s employees, which it has conscientiously sought to consume of “life”?  Until it is finally “dead!”

    My heart is sick and hurts!  THIS, ALL of this, represents the epitome of capitalism at its heartless, vicious self!  

    I hope we can help these dear souls, who work so hard, and suffer — not considered as human beings but as “slaves.”  Shame, shame, shame on US!!!

    I will send money tomorrow to the UFW!  And, I so hope others will do the same.  

    Everyone needs to understand, these dear souls are our “life sources” — THEY provide our food!  Shouldn’t THEY have the same RIGHTS as WE?

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