UFW Foundation Executive Director Diana Tellefson Torres is on a multi-day tour of Michigan, meeting with state government officials, non-profit leaders and farm workers to help focus UFW Foundation efforts to improve workplace rights in the state.
Tellefson Torres met on Thursday with state government officials in Lansing, covering farm worker needs and discussing possible future collaborations. She is joined on her swing through Michigan by UFW Foundation Michigan organizing coordinator Lupita Perales and organizer Edith Saavedra. Friday, Tellefson Torres visited farm workers at H-2A housing camps in Van Buren and Allegan counties. Then, she had dinner with farm workers and their children in Allegan County.
Among the farm workers with whom she spent time with are Claudia and Gricelda. Claudia has labored in the fields for 17 years, harvesting blueberries, pruning vineyards, and working in Christmas tree and flower nurseries. Gricelda has also been working in Michigan agriculture for 17 years, picking blueberries and peppers, planting strawberries, and laboring at Christmas tree nurseries. Gricelda currently is employed at a dairy farm.
Earlier this month, Tellefson Torres toured Georgia. She met with women workers who detailed the lack of restroom facilities in their workplaces. They are forced to relieve themselves in the fields, creating both human rights and food safety dilemmas.
UFW Foundation has helped expose weak workplace protections for farm workers in Georgia, including modern-day human trafficking involving H-2A guest farm workers that UFW Foundation urged the Biden administration to fully investigate.
Under Tellefson Torres, UFW Foundation helped win new protections for children from environmental threats. Most recently, UFW Foundation sponsored legislation in California to ban in agriculture the toxic pesticide chlorpyrifos, which damages the brains and lowers the IQs of fetuses, infants, and small children. As a result of these bills, in 2019 Governor Gavin Newsom banned chlorpyrifos in California through executive action.
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