Many of us drink milk and consume other milk products. Do we want the people who produce them to die or be injured? Sadly, we have to report that another dairy worker has died a needless death.
Following the second gruesome death in less than a year of a dairy worker drowning in a manure pond, the United Farm Workers is asking your help in reducing safety hazards by turning to Idaho's state Governor C.L. Butch Otter. Idaho is the third largest milk production state. You remember the tragedy of Randy Vasquez, 27, who drowned in a manure pond on Feb. 24, 2015, strapped into a front loader at Riverview Ranch, a dairy in rural Mabton, Wash. that supplies milk to the giant Darigold marketing cooperative.
Regrettably, we learned that Ruperto Vazquez Carrera, 37, died in a similarly gruesome way on Feb. 16, 2016, in the neighboring state of Idaho. Since then, we have been busy investigating. Shortly after showing up for work at Sunrise Organic Dairy in Paul, Idaho, Ruperto drove off in a feed truck. He never returned. Ruperto’s body was found about 10 hours later submerged in a large 20-acre manure pond. Sunrise Organic Dairy is a large organic milk producer in Idaho. Ruperto's death is not an isolated case; Idaho alone had three dairy fatalities reported during 2013.
After Randy Vasquez died last year in Washington, the UFW requested to meet with the Darigold cooperative to prevent further deaths and injuries, as 92% of WA dairies are Darigold member dairies. In addition, the powerful Washington state dairy industry—with $3.2 billion a year in economic impacts—pressured the legislature to kill the modest, common sense dairy worker safety bill backed by the UFW and the Washington State Labor Council and sponsored by 17 lawmakers.
In Washington, on average, one person dies every 16 months at a Washington state dairy and one worker is injured per day. But, in Idaho, in 2013, three dairy workers died in one year alone.
We are asking you to send a message to the Governor of Idaho and tell him to meet with the UFW to talk about remedies that could prevent further tragedies. Please take action today.
March 11, 2016