Fight Sexual Harrassment in the Fields: Sign the UFW Petition

Giumarra Vineyards, the world’s largest table grape company, harvests approximately 1 out of every 10 bunches of grapes picked in the US. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has just filed suit against Giumarra Vineyards for allegedly violating federal law by sexually harassing a teenage female farm worker and retaliating against farm workers who came to her aid:

According to the EEOC’s suit (EEOC v. Giumarra Vineyards Corporation, et al, Case No. 1:09-cv-02255), the young woman “was subjected to sexual advances, sexually inappropriate touching and abusive and offensive sexual comments about the male sex organ by a male co-worker.” The EEOC further alleged that after witnessing the sexual harassment, farm workers came to the aid of the teenage victim and complained to Giumarra Vineyards.

Giumarra/Nature’s Partner Campaign Action Page

So the company fired the woman who was harrassed!

One day after reporting the incident, the victim and people who helped her were fired. The EEOC suit states they “were summarily discharged in retaliation for their opposition to the sexual harassment.” (More details in the EEOC’s press release.)

Giumarra/Nature’s Partner Campaign Action Page

The United Farm Workers has started a petition.  Dolores Huerta, who is the co-founder and First Vice President Emeritus of the United Farm Workers of America, AFL-CIO (UFW), will be leading a women’s delegation to hand the petition in on Monday Feb 15. The UFW already have more than 7,000 signatures.

SIGN THE PETITION: Giumarra Vineyards sued


I am astonished and dismayed at Giumarra’s disregard of the law.  This is not medieval times.  In the 21st century workers have the right to speak up to protect themselves and others. Giumarra is not above the law. It is astonishing that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was forced to file suit against Giumarra Vineyards for violating federal law by sexually harassing a teenage female farm worker and retaliating against farm workers who came to her aid.

As the world’s largest table grape company, your behavior helps set the industry standard. You should be ashamed of the example you are setting both in this case with the sexual harassment and retaliation and with your dismal history of worker protection. This behavior reflects negatively on your company and your Nature’s Partner label.

It’s time for your company to realize that you are not above the law. Stop the sexual harassment and retaliation for field workers who speak up or support the UFW. Your consumers are watching.

Please sign the Petition and help the women in the fields.  

Fighting Back on Heat Deaths: Farm Workers going to Sacramento

I have been writing about the heat deaths of the farm workers in California since May.  (After the fold are links for diaries for background.)  

Six have died since May. The latest one was Maria de Jesus Alvarez, 63, mother of nine, who died early this month. The first one to die was 17-year-old Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez, who died in May. Marie was about one month pregnant when she died, and likely did not ever know she was pregnant. The state fined the labor contractor $262,700 for failing to follow heat illness prevention regulations at the time she was stricken, but that won’t bring her back. And the deaths have continued at an accelarated pace since then.

You can help to end this tragedy!

This Monday, August 18, more than 800 farm workers from throughout California want to go to Sacramento.

They want the chance to tell the governor and their elected officials to support AB 2386, “Secret Ballot Elections for Farmworkers,” which has moved out of the assembly and which will be voted on that afternoon in the state senate.

After the fold, I’ll tell you how you can help the farmworkers help themselves.

Sixth Farm Worker Dies from the Heat this Summer in California. A Call for Action.

I have been writing about this story since May.  (after the fold are links for diaries for background).  Yet another farmworker has died from the heat. This is the sixth this summer.

Maria de Jesus Alvarez, 63, mother of nine, died from heat exposure in the fields on August 2.  Her death makes six farm workers who died of heat exposure since May and the 15th farm worker heat death since California Governor Schwarzenegger took office.  Even one is too many.  Six this year is a tragedy.  These deaths show that the state of California is unable to protect farm workers.  

We must act.  We must force action by the state to allow farm workers to protect themselves.  For there are no others to do so.

If you care, join me after the fold.

(also On Daily Kos)


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

I’ve written in the past about the preventable death of Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez and her unborn child.  California’s Occupational Safety and Health Agency recently issued a $262,700 fine against the Central Valley farm labor contracting company that employed Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez, the 17-year old farm worker who died of heat stroke because of the company’s negligence in following the law.  That’s not enough. United Farm Workers President, Arturo S. Rodriguez, thinks criminal prosecution is the only way to deter companies so that no more will die:

This is a case of manslaughter – there is no difference between a driver killing someone while breaking our traffic laws and a labor contractor breaking the law and killing this beautiful young woman. Anything less than criminal prosecution is a desecration of Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez’ death.”

UFW President Arturo S. Rodriguez

More, after the fold.  

(also in orange)

How many Farmworkers must die before someone cares??

I just got back from vacation and saw an email from the United Farm Workers, part of which I quote below:

Ramiro Carillo was the fourth farm worker in the last two weeks to die of heat stroke and the second this week alone!

Ramiro Carrillo Rodriguez, 48, father of two, died in Selma, CA on Thursday afternoon after working all day for Sun Valley Packing in Reedley thru a farm labor contractor.  


42 year-old farm worker Abdon Felix Garcia, father of three, died on Wednesday after spending the morning and early afternoon working for Sunview Vineyards in Arvin. The coroner says Felix’s body core temperature was measured at 108 degrees just 13 minutes before his death.

64 year-old Jose Macarena Hernandez died during a record-breaking heat wave on June 20 while harvesting butternut squash in Santa Maria on land owned by Sunrise Growers.

People keep dying and few give a shit.  I’m pissed off and you should be also.  

What we can do, and more, after the fold.

(also on Daily Kos)


Please Tell Fallen Farm Worker’s Family We Care

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the tragic and preventable death of 17-year-old Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez.  She who died due to heat stroke while laboring in a Stockton area vineyard when the company failed to provide her with the shade and water required by California law.  Her body temperature was 108.4 degrees when she was finally taken to a hospital nearly two hours after she collapsed.  Doctors found after her death that she was two months pregnant.

To date no one from the companies involved has had the decency to express condolences to Maria’s family.


We want to let Maria’s family know that people from all over North America care about this tragedy-that people from all walks of life and of all backgrounds recognize the value of Maria’s life and death. Tell the family that you share the sorrow of Maria’s death and pledge to do what you can, so other farm worker families do not have to endure the same agony.

Now, the United Farm Workers are asking people to sign a condolance card to her family.

Sign Here

More, after the fold.  

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

We need to tell you about a story that will break your heart, and then we need to ask you for help so we can prevent tragedies like this from ever happening again.

Will you help in a fight for justice?  I received an email today from the United Farm Workers about a prevantable death of a young, pregnant woman.  The Daily Kos and Docudharma communities can make a difference here.  The cause is just and necessary.

I just spoke at the funeral of 17-year-old Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez. Maria was working in a grape vineyard outside Stockton during the 1st heat wave of this year. She became ill due to the heat as the farm labor contractor and grower she worked for, like many others, did not provide the protections required by law.

The death of this young pregnant girl is hard to accept because it did not need to happen.

This is not the first time farm workers have needlessly died from the heat.  Ten have died over the last four years.

Arturo S. Rodriguez

President, UFW

Can you help the United Farm Workers?  Will you fight for justice?  More after the fold.