Saturday, July 12, 2008

Workers Dying

The United Farm Workers report the second death this week from Heatstroke in California, the fourth in the last two weeks, aged from 64 to 17.

Heatstroke is preventable, but, by the time the victim shows symptoms, it is often a crisis, frequently fatal. The symptoms are easily distinguishable from the much more benign "Heat Exhaustion"; one victim is pale, grayish, the other is flushed and ruddy. Any civilized legal code will require that supervisors be able to recognize and deal with the difference. Regrettably, "civilized" does not describe those in charge of growing our nation's produce.

Many of the deceased leave dependent children, or, in one case, were children themselves. But they are Mexican migrants, not human beings, whom Godde made and loves. Their deaths are part of doing business, and there are many who will eagerly take their places, and not ask "Why is this position open?" The impetus for change has to come from elsewhere; neither bosses nor potential workers, for the most part, will do it. Legislators, and that means the public, must put a stop to what, in effect, is homicide. It is shameful to us all.

I will attempt the link:>; visit for details.


it's margaret said...


As a teenager, we had a ranch (my parents did the urban flight thing) and my mom always made me carry out ice and popsicles and work alongside the "pickers" who helped us harvest. It is very difficult work.

Prayer for all those who contribute to our harvests.

johnieb said...

Amen. To me, it's unconscionable to treat human beings as less than animals. How many farmers will not make sure that a hog survives the heat? Is a young woman, or a father, or an old man, less than a hog? Apparently.

Few things get me started as fast as this kind of uncaring brutality.

Fran said...

This is so sad and so wrong - I am at a loss for words but not a loss for prayers.

Jane R said...

I saw that on my latest UFW e-mailing. (You and I must be on the same lists, JohnieB. :-)) It has haunted me since I got it. We prayed about it at church and I must get re-involved with the farmworkers somehow, even in a small way. I was remembering this week (you'll see a sentence about it in my next Episcopal Café column, which I turned in two nights ago and will be published within the week, more or less) the Walk for Farmworker Justice in which I was involved in the summer of 2000 in Oregon's Willamette Valley. And now I wonder also about our local farmworkers here in NC. The California Central Valley heat is horrid. And you are right, JohnieB, these conditions are shamefull and these are human beings, our sisters and brothers, not automatons to be exploited.

I think too of the spouses and children left behind and the grief of the communities - who because of the need to work can barely take time off to bury and grieve the dead.

Lord, have mercy.

June Butler said...

It is shameful to us all.

You said it, Johnieb.