THURS Aug 5, 11:30AM – 1:00PM
Vigil to Demand Better Protections for Agricultural Workers & Honor Honesto Silva Ibarra
Labor & Industries Department
7273 Linderson Way SW
Tumwater, WA 98501
Announcement from Edgar Franks, Political Director at Familias Unidas por la Justicia
On Thursday August 5, 2021 Familias Unidas por la Justicia will be holding a vigil at Labor and Industries to protest the Temporary Emergency Rules for Working in Extreme Heat Conditions, which also includes farm labor.
We also will be uplifting the anniversary of workers who went on strike in the summer of 2017 when they faced injustices at a blueberry farm in Whatcom County. That summer, wildfires and smoke made working in the fields dangerous, but these workers spoke out for justice. We honor the memory of Honesto Silva Ibarra who tragically passed away.
We have been experiencing unprecedented heat waves for years now. Farmworkers have had to deal with the impact of the extreme heat with little to no protections from the state or their employers while harvesting and tending to the crops. Even if it is unprecedented it should be expected, as Washington has been seeing climate change and climate disruption intensify the last couple of years.
We farmworkers have already been on the frontlines since the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic and continued to work to keep the agricultural industry afloat and all we asked for in return is to be kept safe. We continue to show up to work even in the face of the most dangerous conditions.
However, that dedication comes at a price. Our community faces some of the highest rates of COVID at a disproportionate level. Now we will be working in unbearable heat.
Our Union members and allies are concerned about how these measures that the emergency rules try to address, although well intentioned, do not address what workers want.
We feel many of the rules still keep us in harm’s way. Most notably that many emergency rules do not actually go into effect until temperatures reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit which is unacceptable.
Rules such as having paid cool off breaks are unenforceable especially if a worker tries to take time to rest and drink water, they can be subject to discipline or termination.
We feel we as a state can do better only until we are all seen as equals when it comes to decision making. Farmworkers are not disposable or just another piece of machinery.
Our state should be taking the lead in protecting workers.
We can’t wait or delay. Wildfires, climate crisis, and droughts will harm our agricultural economy. We as workers want to be part of the solution as we think about transition to a better, healthier environment and economy.
Join us August 5th at the Labor and Industries office in Tumwater, WA
- Community to Community Development: Honesto Silva Ibarra Presente | Community Voz Podcast – In Memory of the Workers (August 2020)
- Politico: Western heatwave highlights need for better farmworker protections (July 2021)