Monday, July 12, 2021

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ICYMI: We Are Home’s Farm Worker Week of Action

Washington, D.C. – Continuing the drumbeat on the need for permanent solutions and immigration action, the We Are Home campaign hosted a farm worker week of action last week. The message continues to be the urgency of citizenship to key segments of our economy, including farm workers who right now are facing the dire consequences of the extreme heatwave. The lack of legal status is at the heart of what makes farm workers so vulnerable to extremely hazardous working conditions, abuse and retaliation. Amidst record-breaking temperatures, the importance of access to fresh water, shade, training and breaks become a matter of life and death. 

As part of the week of action, the UFW Foundation released a text message survey to Washington state farm workers relating to heat illness protections. Some 2,176 self-identified agriculture workers responded to the survey, and they found: 

  • 40.39% of farm workers shared that their employer has not provided them access to shade.
  • 5% are not receiving breaks; 18% were provided only one break per day; and 37% were provided two breaks.

Full survey summary, here.

Below are a few key articles highlighting the week of action and the urgent need to grant legal protections to immigrant farm workers:

  • The Washington Post: Western U.S. readies for scorching heat this weekend
    • “In a United Farm Workers Foundation survey in Washington state, more than half of farmworkers said they experienced a heat illness symptom while working. About 40 percent said their employer has not provided them shade.”
    • “‘Farmworkers are imperiled by a perfect storm of deadly plagues: Extreme summer temperatures fueled by climate change… field workers disproportionately afflicted by the coronavirus… and too many live in daily dread of deportation, afraid to complain about abuse and mistreatment due to their immigration status,’ said Teresa Romero, president of the United Farm Workers union, in a press call Thursday.”
  • Inside Climate News: “For Farmworkers, Heat Too Often Means Needless Death”
    • “Farmworkers are essential to the well being of all of us through the foods they harvest and pick every day,” said Roxana Chicas, an assistant professor at Emory University Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing. “However, exposure to occupational environmental and social hazards has made them a uniquely vulnerable population.”
    • Immigration policy has always been a priority for Farmworker Justice, said its president, Bruce Goldstein, “because immigration policy determines so much about the living and working conditions of farmworkers and their family members.”
    • “‘Farmworkers really are at the frontlines of climate change,’ Leydy Rangel, communications manager of the United Farm Workers Foundation, told Yahoo News. ‘Unfortunately, that’s an issue that will not get better. We know that heat is the No. 1 cause of weather-related deaths in the U.S.’”
    • Bruce Goldstein, presidente de la organización Farmworker Justice, subrayó que en este momento el Congreso tiene varias vías para lograr legalizar a los campesinos indocumentados dándoles una vía a la ciudadanía, y que sin importar cuál sea el mecanismo la necesidad es que se apruebe una ley que permita salir de las sombras a estos trabajadores.”
    • “‘We are tired of going to the funerals of those who have died,’ said Teresa Romero, president of the United Farm Workers union. ‘The time for action is now.’ Reyna Lopez, executive director of the Oregon farmworker group PCUN, said, ‘It has to be national. It has to be strong. It has to be soon.’”


We Are Home​ is a nationwide campaign fighting to ensure that “we the people” includes all of us​. Our mission is to transform America’s inhumane immigration system. We must undo the damage of the last four years and build a new immigration system that is fair, humane, functional, and centered in racial justice, and respects all people, regardless of race, religion, or birthplace. And we must immediately enact legislation that creates a roadmap to citizenship for every immigrant who calls this country home.. We Are Home is co-chaired by Community Change/Community Change Action; National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA)/Care in Action; Service Employees International Union (SEIU); United Farm Workers (UFW), and United We Dream.