CRLA Springs into Action over Work and Safety Violations

As temperatures in the pepper fields of the Coachella Valley blazed above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, workers sought out safety and health protections to avoid heat stress and exhaustion - regular break periods, access to shaded areas and cool drinking water. The workers frequently found, however, that the drinking water provided by the farm labor contractor was too warm to drink, and regularly asked their supervisor to bring ice to cool down the water. The supervisors discouraged workers from taking rest breaks, even though the right to such rest periods is guaranteed by state regulation. The farmworkers knew that something was not right, and the workers contacted the CRLA Coachella office to seek rural justice. CRLA advocates sprung into action.

CRLA discovered that the farm labor contractor never provided the pepper workers with the required trainings on how to avoid heat illness. During the last week of May, one worker had a bloody nose because of the heat. During the first week of June, in retaliation for their requests for safer working conditions, the entire crew was fired by their supervisor. Within two weeks of speaking to the pepper workers, CRLA attorneys filed a lawsuit in Riverside County Superior Court seeking the reinstatement of the fired workers and a court order requiring compliance with heat illness prevention regulations.

On June 20, 2008, the Superior Court Judge issued a temporary restraining order requiring the employer to provide sufficient cool drinking water for all employees; to provide necessary preventative rest periods in the shade for workers; and provide mandated heat illness prevention trainings.

Read more about CRLA Work and Safety Advocacy and make a donation to help guarantee Rural Justice victories like that of the Coachella Valley pepper workers.

News Links:

June 23, 2008 -

Laborers File Suit Over Inadequate Conditions During Extreme Heat

June 23, 2008 - The Press-Enterprise /

Judge orders shade, water for a company's Coachella Valley farm workers


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