Farm Workers Fired for Leaving Fields During California Wildfire

Okay, so here is a story that’s bound to get my right-wing-leaning, anti-union, anti-immigrant pro-slavery readers full of joy. According to reports, fifteen farm workers in California were fired for walking off the job earlier than they were supposed to last week. Why did they leave, and why did they expect to have jobs when they returned? Well, their choice to leave early had nothing to do with a labor disputes or one of those tips that ICE was parked around the corner. Instead, like anyone working in an environment where billowing smoke from forest fires can make it uncomfortable for one to perform his or her task, they left. Yeah, what’s a little smoke from a raging California forest fire supposed to do?

I suppose them being concerned about their health, and maybe not dying from carbon monoxide poisoning was akin to drapetomania hence their dereliction of duty. I mean, clearly getting strawberries out of the field is more important than, say, being healthy and alive on occasion when you’re being paid for your labor, right? I know, anything counter to that line of thinking is anti-American, right?

This from NBC Los Angeles:

More than a dozen farm workers in Southern California were out of a job after walking out of the fields last week, forced indoors because of heavy smoke from a massive wildfire burning nearby.

“Oh, yeah, the smoke was very bad. That’s no doubt about that,” said Lauro Barrajas, of the United Farm Workers.

As the blaze, dubbed the Springs Fire, continued to grow in Camarillo May 2, farm workers 11 miles south in Oxnard said they started to feel the effects of the smoke in the strawberry fields.

The ashes were falling on top of us, one of them explained, adding “it was hard to breathe.”

Thank God I wasn't working in a Texas plant full of Ammonium nitrate.
Thank God I wasn’t working in a Texas plant full of Ammonium nitrate.

Air quality in the region was at dangerously poor levels and 15 workers at Crisalida Farms decided they could not handle it any longer. They left, even though their foreman warned them they would not have a job when they returned.

When they went back to the fields May 3, the farm fired them.

Barrajas, who is a representative of the UFW, said the workers contacted him for help, even though they were not members of the union.

Union representatives met with the farm’s upper management and applied a union rule.

“No worker shall work under conditions where they feel his life or health is in danger,” Barrajas said.

In a statement to Telemundo, the farm representative said the workers left without permission while orders still needed to be filled. The company offered to pay them for the hours they’d worked.

Later, the company settled with the union and offered to rehire all 15 workers. But only one worker returned.

The others took jobs on other farms.

One worker said while it hurts to lose work, one’s health is more important.

Oh well, I guess this isn’t too bad. After all, it’s not like they worked for pennies at a garment factory in Bangladesh. I mean, this is America — a country where we take care of our workers. A country where in the name of capitalism and profit, labor unions are thankfully on the decline.  Yep, and as for those lazy bums in the story above, they better thank brown-skinned Jesus they weren’t picking cotton. If so they would’ve had a foot cut off, and expected to show up to work the next day.