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Daily Action: Support the Farmworker Resource Program


CONTACT:
Supervisor Linda Parks:
(805) 214-2510
Linda.Parks@ventura.org

Supervisor Steve Bennett:
(805) 654-2703
Steve.Bennett@ventura.org

Supervisor Kelly Long:
805-654-2276
Kelly.Long@ventura.org

Supervisor Peter Foy:
supervisor.foy@ventura.org

Supervisor John Zaragoza:
(805) 654-2613
john.zaragoza@ventura.org


Sample script:
Hello! My name is ____________, and I am a constituent of Supervisor __________ in ________, California. I'm calling to ask that you support the Farmworker Resource Program when it comes to a vote tomorrow morning. Our farm workers, regardless of their immigration status or language skills, deserve the same workplace rights and protections that employees in other occupations receive. They also deserve to KNOW their rights, and having a governmental agency in place to work with and advocate for them will help provide security and stability in a profession that is often precarious. Thank you!


BACKGROUND
The Ventura County Board of Supervisors will vote on the measure on Tuesday, June 6, to create a Farmworker Resource Program in the Ventura County budget to create local staff who can help farmworkers learn about their labor rights and directly resolve issues with their employers or report violations to public agencies. The vote is the culmination of a yearlong effort by the United Farm Workers, CAUSE and other support organizations for farmworkers, trying to convince Ventura and Santa Barbara counties to institute a Farmworker Bill of Rights that would establish a "rule of law" in the counties' fields.

The two counties are home to about 40,000 farm workers, more than 10 percent of the statewide total -- and an estimated 40 to 50 percent of them are undocumented. Currently, agricultural employers engage in rampant violations of workplace regulations -- partly because undocumented workers fear they'll be deported if they speak up, and partly because the fines employers face for breaking the law are so minimal that they believe the abuses are worth the financial risk.

The rights promoted by the bill are grouped into concerns about wage theft, safety and health, and overwork. Many of its elements demand respect for requirements that are already law, but are too infrequently enforced — rest breaks, for example, and penalizing employers who steal wages. The bill also calls for educating farm workers on their rights, and establishing a complaint hotline.

The bill also would require employers to hold available the jobs of pregnant women who stop working in the fields through their pregnancies in order to avoid pesticide exposure, and technical assistance for growers to reduce dependency on pesticides. The bill also calls for the creation of a position in local government to address extensive sexual harassment and violence against women in the fields.

The bill would require the appropriation of county-level funds and the creation of several new government positions in order to enforce its provisions.