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What Will It Take To Protect Farmworkers From The Deadly Heat?

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Fresh Fruit Portal
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According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, 1 in 5 victims of heat-related deaths nationally are agricultural workers, fishers, forestry workers, and hunters, who usually spend eight or more hours working outside every day.

On this edition of Your Call, we're discussing how the record heat wave across the Pacific Northwest has impacted farmworkers. Temperatures recently soared to record highs of 117 in Oregon and 118 in Washington, yet members of the United Farm Workers union say there has been more emphasis on saving harvests than protecting the predominantly Latino workers.

Some workers were forced to work overnight or early hours to avoid the heat. On Saturday, vigils were held for Sebastian Francisco Perez, a 38-year-old farmworker who tragically died on June 26, the first day of the heatwave, in Willamette Valley, Oregon.

Later in the show, we'll discuss the Supreme Court's recent decision in Cedar Point Nursery v Hassid, which will make it harder for union organizers to meet with farmworkers at their place of work.

Guests:

Elizabeth Strater, Director of Strategic Campaigns at United Farm Workers, the nation’s largest farmworkers union

Chelsea Dimas, advocate for farmworkers in the Yakima Valley who used to work in the fields in eastern Washington as a child and teen. She still has family working in the fields and orchards.

Kate Cimini, reporter with the Salinas Californian and CalMatters' California Divide project covering economic inequality, agriculture, and housing

Web Resources:

VICE, Lauren Kaori Gurley: Farmworkers Endure Brutal Conditions During Historic Heat Wave

NBC News, Suzanne Gamboa: Union calls for 'urgent' farmworker protections during Washington's record heat

Statesman Journal, Dora Totoian: Farmworker dies in Willamette Valley record heat

CalMatters, Kate Cimini: Supreme Court favors property rights over farmworker unions

Lea is a producer for Your Call on KALW Local Public Radio. She graduated from the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY in 2018.
Rose Aguilar has been the host of Your Call since 2006. She became a regular Friday media roundtable guest in 2001.