Rose Aguilar writes: Today is Labour Day in the United States, and in the year 2012, people doing backbreaking work in the heat don’t have access to clean drinking water. That’s right, in the land of the free, where corporate profits continue to reach all-time highs, workers doing actual labour, either drink brown water or have no water at all in temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 Celsius).
Since the state of California – the country’s breadbasket – issued the first heat regulations in the country in 2005, 16 farm workers have died from heat related illnesses. The Farm Worker Safety Act, which is currently on Governor Jerry Brown’s desk, will allow the 400,000 workers who pick our fruits and vegetables in unbearable heat to sue employers who repeatedly fail to comply with mandatory requirements for shade and drinking water. These are basic human rights that most of us take for granted. Governor Brown should sign this bill immediately.
In July, Southern California warehouse workers who move goods for Walmart, the world’s largest corporation, filed a complaint with the state’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) detailing more than a dozen violations, including no access to clean water, wage abuses, broken equipment, and unreasonable and unsafe moving quotas. Workers say they are denied access to medical care, are told they will be laid off if they can’t work while injured, and are often blocked inside the trailers they are loading for up to 30 minutes with no exit. [Continue reading…]