Monday, July 29, 2013

"I don't care if you faint or die..." #farmworkers

“I don’t care if you faint or die ...”

You have been a good friend of farm workers, so we don’t have to tell you that farm labor isn’t fun. It’s hard and often dangerous work. It’s so difficult for low paid workers to stand up against abusive employers. Won’t you help?

Javier Santiago picks lettuce. This involves walking stooped over down a line of lettuce that might be several hundred yards long, cutting and trimming the heads at the base with a very sharp knife -- often without standing up or stretching. “Our supervisor exhorts us to work harder and says he does not care if we faint or die … He tells the machine operator to go faster, so we can work faster, too. When it’s very hot, we aren’t allowed to rest in the shade and are pressured more.”
Things aren’t any better for lettuce worker Andrea Gonzalo. “When it’s very hot … they make us work, and if we complain to the supervisor, they yell at us and make us work harder even though the heat gets worse. Likewise, when it’s raining, they make us work in the rain without any protective equipment, just a black trash bag for covering.”

And to make matters even worse, some bosses cheat. Virginia Isidro works in the lettuce fields for a farm labor contractor in California. She gets paid just above minimum wage. And on top of that, her boss cheats her. “When on occasion, we have to work a Sunday, they pay us with a personal check to avoid having to pay us overtime.”

But there’s a better way. We can have a dependable food supply without crushing workers and treating them like animals or machines. We can have vegetables and fruit that doesn’t come with a side of guilt about the fate of the people who work stooped over in the hot sun.

Farm work will always be hard, but it doesn’t have to be cruel. The only thing proven to win a better life for workers is a union contract. Veronica Chavez works under UFW contract at D’Arrigo Brothers. “For me, it is important to work under a union contract because the union keeps us informed of laws that help all farm workers, and we can improve every day our long days in the fields and not be mistreated like at other companies … We have respect, because we have a contract.”

Once workers have respect, management begins to think of them as human beings who have dignity and strength. That’s why we hope you’ll continue your support by donating today.

Don't want to pay by credit card? Prefer to pay by check? No problem. Please print out this page and fill out the form. Then mail in your check to: United Farm Workers, "Vegetables- Internet", P.O. Box 62, Keene, CA, 93531.

Check out our website at: and keep up with the latest news.
Check out the UFW's Social Networking pages. Click to visit our Facebook, YouTube, Twitter pages. Become our "friend" and follow us.

United Farm Workers,  P.O. Box 62, Keene, CA 93531,

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Support safer food, from field to fork ~ United Farm Workers

Support safer food,
from field to fork.

Sign the petition TODAY!
The UFW is proud to be working with a coalition of environmental and farm worker groups to ensure revisions in the federal Worker Protection Standard protect farm workers from dangerous pesticides.

It's the time of year that we enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables. Many of our summer favorites — watermelon, strawberries, peaches — carry pesticide residues from field to table. While even small amounts of these chemicals can be harmful to our health, farm workers face a greater risk due to direct exposure in fields and orchards. Too often, they lack sufficient safeguards.

The Worker Protection Standard that was designed to fill this gap have for too long been weak and unenforced — and we hear revisions are finally in the works. This must change.

Please help. Add your voice to this urgent issue. Take action today and sign the petition urging policymakers to better protect the country’s nearly two million farm workers from dangerous pesticides. It's time for EPA to get it right and quit putting farm workers at risk.

After you sign the petition, please ask your friends and family to sign too. You can send them an e-mail, post this campaign on your Facebook and/or Twitter page by clicking here or by going to
Public 7/17/13
Farm worker advocates press EPA to update pesticide rules

Saying they are plagued by pesticides but protected by only a thin layer of government regulation, farm workers and their advocates are pressing the Environmental Protection Agency to update rules that are two decades old, and, critics say, dangerously dated.

Farm worker advocates from Florida to California were in Washington Monday and Tuesday to press the EPA and members of Congress to tighten rules meant to protect agricultural laborers from pesticides in the fields.

Their target: The Worker Protection Standard, a set of EPA rules meant to reduce the risk of pesticide-related injuries for some 2.5 million agricultural workers and pesticide handlers at 600,000 agricultural establishments nationwide.

Yet, even as the perils of pesticides have become better known, EPA protections have not been seriously updated in 20 years.

And, the Center for Public Integrity reported last year, the federal agency can only guess at the number of pesticide-related injuries for workers who often toil in the shadows. In addition, the Center found, the EPA often hands off pesticide enforcement to the states — which receive and investigate modest numbers of complaints each year.

The mix of old regulations and thin enforcement leads to tangible problems for laborers in the fields, advocates say. ... MORE

Check out our website at: and keep up with the latest news.
Check out the UFW's Social Networking pages. Click to visit our Facebook, YouTube, Twitter pages. Become our "friend" and follow us.

United Farm Workers,  P.O. Box 62, Keene, CA 93531,

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

#humanrights [disgraceful] Obama Administration Appeals SOA Watch Court Victory

The Pentagon is Fighting Hard to Keep SOA/ WHINSEC Secrecy
Obama Administration Continues to Refuse the Release of Names of SOA/WHINSEC Graduates:
Appeals SOA Watch Court Victory

Human rights activists and SOA Watch took the U.S. government to court over its refusal to release the names of the trainers at the SOA/WHINSEC - and WON! In a landmark case, United States District Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton from the Northern District of California ruled in April 2013, that the Pentagon had no grounds for refusing to release these names (click here to read the judgment).

Now, two months later, the U.S. government is appealing the ruling and fighting to keep information about the SOA/WHINSEC secret, because this school has been connected to the training of torturers, death squads and military dictators throughout the Americas. The decision to file an appeal and not accept the ruling of Judge Hamilton unmasks President Obama's claim that his administration would be the most transparent in history as just one more lie. SOA Watch and human rights defenders will continue to fight against the denial of access to information and against government secrecy surrounding the SOA/WHINSEC.

Background: The SOA made headlines in 1996 when the Pentagon released training manuals used at the school that advocated torture, extortion and execution. Hundreds of SOA alumni have been implicated in human rights abuses and the formation of death squads, 11 Latin American military dictators, including Jorge Videla of Argentina, Hugo Banzer of Bolivia, General Rios Montt of Guatemala, attended the school. SOA graduates led the 2002 coup in Venezuela, and the 2009 coup in Honduras, and continue to be involved in repression in Colombia, Honduras, Mexico and throughout Latin America.

By having public access to the records of the SOA/WHINSEC from 1946 to 2004, SOA Watch compiled the names, course, rank, country of origin, and dates attended for every soldier and instructor at the SOA, renamed WHINSEC in 2001. After researchers exposed cases of known human rights abusers attending WHINSEC (despite claims that the "new" school was committed to human rights), and shared this research with Congressional decision-makers, the Pentagon altered its approach to public access of information and refused to disclose any future information about students or teachers at WHINSEC.

“The Pentagon knows that releasing the names of who is being trained at the notorious school, would lead to more disclosures about the atrocities that they are committing. The Pentagon is fighting hard to keep that information secret.” said SOA Watch founder Father Roy Bourgeois. “The SOA/ WHINSEC is their flagship training school, and their way of controlling the militaries, and thus the people of the Americas. Justice will prevail and the school will be shut down.”

The case will go to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, a U.S. federal court with appellate jurisdiction over the Northern District of California. SOA Watch is going to ask the Ninth Circuit Court to uphold the value of transparency, and the public's right to know, over the Pentagon’s secrecy.

Meanwhile, Anonymous, the loosely associated network of hacktivists, who gained fame as digital Internet Freedom Fighters, issued a Video Call to Action against the School of the Americas. The 2 minute video, with the hashtag #OpSOA calls on the Anonymous Collective to "expose the graduates and instructors of the SOA/ WHINSEC, and others who are responsible for their atrocities." The movement to close the School of the Americas is made up of people from many backgrounds and represents a positive alternative to the system of violence and domination, and we are grateful for the support from the hacktivist community. With the increasing secrecy by the Obama administration, and their blatant disregard for the rare Congressional and Judicial calls for transparency, whistle-blowers like Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden, and hactivists like Anonymous have played an important role in uncovering the truth about government abuses that affect all of us.

SOA Watch will continue to take this fight for justice and transparency to the halls of Congress, through the judicial system (all the way up to the Supreme Court if we have to), to the media, and into the internet, but first and foremost into the streets. To win, we need to build a grassroots movement that is too powerful to be ignored. Take action against militarization on August 9, 2013 in your community, and join the November Vigil at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia from November 22-24, 2013. We need to change the culture of secrecy, violence and domination, and create a culture of justice and peace in order to make the existence of places like the School of the Americas impossible.