Working Under The Gun
It's Not Just an Expression
Workers of Starrh and Starrh Cotton Growers--a large cotton, hay, and almond producer in California—need your help. They need you to e-mail Cal OSHA immediately and tell them to investigate the violations at the ranch right away and prosecute the company to the fullest extent of the law. When you hear what the workers’ lives are like, you will be horrified...and furious. Please take a moment to help these workers by sending your e-mail today!
"I have been working for Starrh and Starrh for five years", Alejandro Gil told us. "The working conditions are awful. We are exposed to a lot of dust and we do not have any protection. In the last two or three days, I have been feeling a pain in my chest and my back when I breathe...The owner's brother-in-law always puts pressure on workers. He wants more production. The brother-in-law always carries a gun on his waist to scare workers."
"We never had bathrooms, fresh water or water to wash our hands. Sometimes we do not get any breaks. They put a lot of pressure on us to work faster. When I helped them packing hay, I worked up to 16 hours without breaks." said Gerardo Negrete. "I am a sprayer and they do not give us what we need to protect ourselves from the chemicals. I have sprayed [pesticide] without gloves, masks or overalls. They only give those to us when we are close
to roads where maybe some inspectors can see us...The foremen make fun of us for not having the protection we need."
Francisco Villasaña, another 20-year employee, reports, "The foreman is abusive. Not only does he humiliate us, but he also does not provide us with fresh water--he actually drinks our water."
Listening to these workers makes you wonder if we've stepped into a time warp. Really, how can this happen in 2007?
There are laws that say that workers need breaks for meals and to rest. There are laws that say that workers must have clean water to drink, and protection from sun and extreme heat. There are laws that say that workers must have bathrooms--for their own health--and that of the consumers who eat the food that comes from those fields.
Please send an e-mail to Cal OSHA--the agency responsible for protecting farm workers and enforcing these laws--and tell them to investigate these violations immediately and prosecute the company to the fullest extent of the law.
United Farm Workers