April 25, 2020 C2C
Below is the full text of the Saturday 4/25/2020 Action Alert from Community to Community Development. People can send in a comment now to beat the Monday 4/27/20, 5:00 p.m. deadline!!
For over a month C2C and FUJ have been begging the state to implement emergency rules to protect farmworkers — even going as far as submitting a lawsuit against the state demanding immediate action to ensure the safety and health of agricultural workers who were “essential” but forgotten by State Agencies once again.
After over a month since our initial demands, on Thursday April 23 the Department of Health and the Department of Labor and Industries finally published proposed emergency regulations regarding farmworkers’ housing (critically leaving out transportation and work sites!) scheduled to take effect May 1st. READ THEM HERE: https://www.lni.wa.gov/…/AO20…/2009DraftLanguage04232020.pdf
While it is a relief that the State of Washington has decided to take action, on careful review of these “new” orders, our frustration grew upon seeing there is very little change from the current, inadequate regulations.
It is appalling that it took the threat of a lawsuit to force Governor Inslee to force the State Agencies to issue these orders. It is even more appalling that the State’s actions came too late to prevent 70 farmworkers from becoming ill in Yakima, and 42* H2A workers becoming ill at the Stemilt labor camp in Wenatchee.
Join us in submitting comments ASAP (the deadline is Monday 5 p.m.) to the Department of Health and Labor and Industries demanding that the content of these new emergency orders truly protects and helps save lives of farmworkers and those in rural communities where they live and work by including these key additions
Submit comments to both the Department of Health (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Labor and Industries (email@example.com) demanding these changes we have highlighted below and read our full comments here: http://www.foodjustice.org/…/action-alert-submit-comments-o…
1) Prohibit use of bunkbeds entirely, as well as the use of plastic sheeting as barriers; instead of barriers, current spacing ratios for housing, showering, sinks, cooking, and food storage facilities must be revised to reflect current CDC social distancing recommendations
2) Prohibit expanded use of tent housing
3) Require education about COVID-19 cleaning protocols and general health and safety precautions in line with CDC recommendations, as well as what to do if you suspect you are sick and what will happen if you test positive, in a language or languages understood by the contracted farmworkers
4) Require farms to continue providing regular pay for workers in isolation in addition to adequate food and water; and require contract tracing and consequent isolation of anyone who has come into contact with any worker (including management) who has tested positive for COVID-19
5) Department of Health must re-inspect all temporary housing and only issue licenses and/or certifications of compliance with state standards with facilities that fully comply with these regulations
Photo credit: Jorge Bex