California, Maricela, Doug Parker discussed on The World
In the West have been catastrophic. At least 27 people are dead. Millions of acres of land torched and the skies above parts of California, Oregon and Washington blanketed in toxic smoke. Some people, many of them immigrants are now being forced to choose between their health and a paycheck. The world's Monica Campbell spoke with some immigrant farm workers about the difficult choices in front of them right now. The air was so thick in southern Oregon, it was like a white out, burning your eyes and throat, but Maricela kept working harvesting grapes for merlot wine. She sent me a video of herself working in eight hour shift outside. Her hands moves so fast, The video seems sped up. She's careful to protect the tiny grapes but protecting herself from the smoke around her that comes second. She can't afford to miss work, she says. She makes $12 an hour has bills to pay and wires all she can to feed her kids in Mexico. Normally, she likes her boss. But right now she's angry about what I have to choose between my health and a paycheck. She says. Her boss apologized. But the graves needed picking wants to speak openly. Maricela asked me not to say her last name or where she works. She worries she could get fired. This reality, along with notoriously weak labor regulations have kept farm workers breathing toxic smoke all along the West Coast. Estella Cisneros is an advocate with California rural legal assistance. She says that many farm workers are particularly sensitive to smoke because they have preexisting health conditions because they have low socioeconomic status because they have Less access to healthcare. They're already vulnerable to the negative effects of prolonged exposure and inhalation of smoke. I asked Doug Parker about this. He leads California's division of Occupational Safety and Health. Cal OSHA He says. If the air quality index tops 150 considered unhealthy, then employers must provide respirators. Those in 95 masts, which are sturdier and have a small filter, But many farm workers say that's not happening. That's disturbing. It's the employers obligation Provide protective equipment to employees plan is simple. If masks are available, it's up to workers to decide to wear them. It's voluntary. They're not required unless the air quality Index or why tops 500 for context. On some of the worst days of smoke on the West Coast, the Kuai was in the three hundreds. You definitely didn't go outside if he didn't have Tio Parker wishes he had stronger tools to protect farm workers. But he says he simply doesn't have enough enforcement officers to sweep every agricultural site in California to flag violations. I would really like to hear from workers more about situations that could be hard for some farm workers to speak up if they're undocumented or have flimsy contracts or no union. One man who didn't want his name on air kept harvesting almonds in Fresno, California, Even a smoke filled the area from a massive fire. He says his farm didn't provide masks. Although he's heard that some do. I told him about an anonymous tip line that workers can call if employers aren't following the rules. Quintillion moment. No, I wouldn't call that number. He says. What if it gets traced back to me? That's a big concern for farm worker advocates. So when possible, they try to help in person turned the camera here. You can see, We can't even look at this guy because, like all the smoke around us in Oregon, I talked with Daisy Bedoya over video call. She's with a non profit that helps farm workers south of Portland. All week. Bedoya has been passing out face masks and bags have donated food, Tio evacuees and two people who have managed to not work because of the smoke. We havin a family line of food, anything from protein bars, granola coffee, One couple approaches the donation table. If they want. 100 samples were here for help the mounts as standing up to his pregnant wife, Zoya asks if they work in the fields. Yes, they say, but not today. Our boss said, stay home. Oi hopes the donations will make it easier for more people to do that. She understands the realities. Her family worked on farms after migrating from Mexico. Taking Marissa's well I've done in my brother have funny, she knows farm workers are not always protected. Even now, with smoke swirling all around they're having to work outside. Really hard conditions. It's very frustrating that they're always the ones that are at the end and the last one that people think of it. That's how I feel about it. But Bedoya also feels thankful for all the people who made donations and who are trying to keep farm workers safe for the world. Monica Campbell You're listening to the world. Support for Lady comes from mighty Mike Termite services the Bay Area termite experts mighty mite adheres to all social distancing and safety guidelines. Mighty mite now provides estimates on both termite elimination and would damage repair..