Monday, April 28, 2014
Monday, April 21, 2014
Should anyone have to go through this?
The conditions under which many melon pickers in this country work stink. Sometimes literally. Can you help?
Azucena Ordorica has had five years’ experience picking melons in California. Her descriptions of the restrooms near the fields where she has worked are stomach-turning: “The bathrooms were always very dirty,” she says. “When I would open the door, a horrendous smell along with a swarm of flies would come out. The flies were flying and landing all over my body,” she says. “It was horrible.”
And that’s not the worst of it. According to melon harvester Brenda A. Ruiz, “On occasions bathrooms are not provided.” Brenda also says that “The water that is provided to drink is hot and dirty.” And the bosses find creative ways to take the workers’ meager wages away from them. Brenda reports that she and her co-workers are required to carpool with their supervisors — at a cost of $15 per day!
Women workers endure special threats and humiliations. Azucena had a particularly traumatic experience with sexual harassment. “On the first day of employment, a supervisor once told me if I had sex with him twice a week, he would make sure I had work for the entire season,” she says. “Since I refused, I was fired.”
People should NOT be subjected to such abuses to support themselves and their families. Cantaloupes and other melon crops bring hundreds of millions of dollars of profit every year to U.S. growers. They can afford to pay their workers better and to ensure that their employees work in safe, sanitary conditions.
We know it is possible because one exceptional company, Perez Packing Inc. of Firebaugh, California, is working with the UFW to make it happen. We’re currently negotiating with them to give their workers the kind of union contract every farm worker deserves.
By sending your contribution today, you’ll allow us to organize at the other melon companies with these horrible abuses. Every donation, regardless of the amount, makes a difference and is greatly appreciated.