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Ear to the Ground

Farmworkers Fired After Fleeing Blaze

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Posted on May 9, 2013
Screenshot

Smoke from the nearby Springs fire fills the air in Oxnard, Calif.

Fifteen agricultural workers in Oxnard, Calif., lost their jobs after they sought shelter to escape the ash and smoke-filled air from a raging wildfire last week. The strawberry pickers said they left because the smoke interfered with their ability to breathe. But that didn’t seem to matter to their employer, which fired the workers when they returned to the fields the next day.

According to a United Farm Workers union rule, “No workers shall work under conditions where they feel their life or health is in danger.”

The workers were eventually offered their jobs back after union intervention, but only one returned; the others got jobs elsewhere.

The Raw Story:

The wildfire, dubbed the Springs Fire was growing out of control in Camarillo Springs, California on Thursday, May 2. The workers, employees of Crisalida Farms in Oxnard, located 11 miles south of the fire’s center, began to cough and experience lowered visibility as smoke and ash rained down on them.

Even as the air quality in the fields declined, a foreman told the workers that if they walked off the job, they would not have jobs to come back to. When they returned on May 3, they were told that they were fired.

Farm representatives made a statement to Latin TV network Telemundo that the workers had clocked out without permission with orders still to be filled, hence the firing.

Read more

—Posted by Tracy Bloom.

 

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