The UFW's lifesaving heat safety bills AB 2346, the Farm Worker Safety Act (Butler) and AB 2676 (Calderon), Humane Treatment for Farm Workers Act have been approved by the Senate and the Assembly and are now on California Governor Brown's desk.
AB 2346 (Butler), The Farm Worker Safety Act of 2012, will allow farm workers to sue employers who repeatedly fail to comply with mandatory requirements for shade and drinking water. It would make growers and the farm labor contractors they hire jointly liable if contractors fail to supply farm workers with shade and water under California's hot summer sun.
AB 2676 (Calderon), the Humane Treatment of Farm Workers Act, says agricultural employers must treat farm workers at least as well as animals, by providing shade and water or face the same criminal penalties--punishable by jail time and fines.
We can't assume Governor Brown will sign these bills as the opposition is lobbying intensely.
Farm worker lives rely on these bills because the state just doesn’t have the resources to adequately enforce its heat standards. According to an August 22, 2012 editorial in the Desert Sun, "Last year only 1,090 heat inspections were conducted on California’s 81,500 farms. At that rate, many violations could go unnoticed."
Since California issued its 2005 regulations to keep farm workers from dying of extreme heat, preventable farm worker deaths have continued to occur at a similar pace. In most of these cases where a farm worker has died, the employer deprived the farm workers of adequate water and shade multiple times. This summer, state regulators are again investigating two possible heat-related farm worker deaths.
Let's all do our part in saving farm worker lives. Could you please send a message to Governor Brown today and request that he sign AB 2346 and AB 2676 into law?