Washington, D.C. — Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) introduced a measure on Thursday protecting all U.S. farm and indoor and outdoor workers from death and illness due caused by extreme heat. The Asunción Valdivia Heat Illness and Fatality Prevention Act, named for a California farm worker who perished from the heat in 2004, would enact for the nation safeguards the United Farm Workers won in California. The UFW and UFW Foundation applaud Senator Harris’ introduction of the bill.
The UFW, working with U.S. Representative Judy Chu when she was a California lawmaker, convinced then-Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to issue the nation’s first comprehensive heat standards protecting California farm and other outdoor workers. The union worked in 2015 with Democratic Governor Jerry Brown’s administration to strengthen the rules and their enforcement. The California standards have saved countless lives.
“As temperatures have soared above 100 degrees across the U.S., most farm workers still lack basic protections from deadly heat such as the right to cold water, shade and rest breaks,” said UFW President Teresa Romero. “Farm workers —deemed essential by the federal government during the global pandemic— deserve protections from heat-related death and illness. The UFW is proudly working alongside Senator Harris on the Asunción Valdivia Heat Illness and Fatality Prevention Act to create national heat rules such as those we won in California.”
“Farm workers, who are on the forefront of suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic and smoke from wildfires, also face the additional risk of suffering heat illness as temperatures are rising due to climate change,” said UFW Foundation Executive Director Diana Tellefson Torres. “Farm workers are deemed essential workers but still lack basic labor and health rights. That needs to change. That’s why we join Senator Harris in the fight for the Asunción Valdivia Heat Illness and Fatality Prevention Act of 2020, to provide workers the right of access to water, shade, rest breaks and training.”
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