We are writing to request your support for our dairy farmworker health and safety advocacy campaign. In particular, we are targeting seven congressional representatives who are pushing for the indefinite delay of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) local emphasis program (LEP) on dairy farms in NYS. LEPs are enforcement strategies intended to address hazards or industries that pose a particular risk to workers. Together with dairy farmworker leaders, we will deliver the letter at meetings with these representatives. It’s far too common for our political representatives to blindly support the interests of farmers, without considering the implications this will have on the lives of farmworkers. We know that there are imminent safety and health risks on dairy farms – 12 deaths on dairies in NYS since 2007, five of which occurred since 2011.
Please consider signing the attached letter as an organization and support dairy farmworkers like David and Lazaro, whose letters detailing the unsafe working conditions at NY dairy farms, were published recently in the Syracuse Post Standard. If you or your organization is willing to be a signatories, please let us know no later than March 15th.
In addition to signing the attached letter, there are several other ways you can support our ongoing campaign for Justice for Dairy Farmworkers:
This spring dairy farmworker leaders and advocates will conduct speaking engagements throughout NYS. If you are interested in hosting an engagement or know someone who is, please let us know. The talk will give participants a better understanding of the farmworker perspective of what it’s like to work on dairy farms, come to the United States and work, and what kinds of changes need to happen to achieve justice. Farmworker leaders and advocates would also be able to speak about additional organizing efforts we are involved with such as wage theft, comprehensive immigration reform, NYS drivers license bill, farmworker exclusion laws, and international solidarity.
Please consider donating to our campaign. We are working hard to make sure that the powerful voices of dairy farmworkers guide our campaign and are heard every step of the way. Most of the leaders of the campaign don’t have cars and therefore need to pay for transportation to come together to meet. They also aren’t paid for time they take off, so we would like to be able to compensate them for the time they spend working with us organizing.
Forward the following powerful media tools to your contacts (media, friends, family): Our recent press release (attached), links to David and Lazaro letters, Kevin’s video testimonial about dairy farms working conditions and an online memorial to Fernando Ortiz, a dairy farmworker who was killed on the job a year ago.
Become an “official” ally and take a picture with our “Justice Fortified gallon of milk” (attached). We will share it with workers and in on our social media sites.
Contact your congressional representative by phone (attached is a suggested script), a personal letter (attached is one you can use or modify) and/or join our delegations to visit them in the coming months. The seven representatives are:
Here is a link to links of each of New York’s representatives in Congress:http://www.ny.gov/congress_delegation.html.
For people who are not sure who their representative is, they can go to:http://whoismyrepresentative.com
Thank you so much friends and allies, we are so proud of how far this campaign has come and grateful for your support to help make it happen,
Rebecca Fuentes, Workers Center of Central NY
Carly Fox, Worker Justice Center of NY
More information about the campaign:
We are very disappointed to learn that seven House members from Upstate New York, led by Representative Richard Hanna, are lobbying the federal government to indefinitely delay OSHA inspections of dairy farms, claiming that bringing farms into compliance would be too “burdensome” and result in “onerous fines.” We demand an immediate end to these legislators’ effort to stymie OSHA’s mission to reduce the risk of accidents and injuries for those whose dedicated labor has helped to drive the state’s economy and made New York the leading yogurt-producing state in the nation.
Unfortunately, deaths and injuries on New York dairy farms are neither isolated, nor inevitable, occurrences. Since 2007, there have been at least twelve fatalities on New York dairy farms, an alarming five of which have occurred since 2011. Francisco Ortiz, a dairy farmworker from Veracruz, Mexico, died in February 2013 after being crushed by a faulty auger while working on a small dairy farm in Ithaca, NY. David, a 23 year old farmworker from the San Marcos region of Guatemala, has suffered a string of injuries while working on dairy farms, including, most recently, the loss of half of his finger after a cow being loaded into a trailer moved backwards into the door, crushing his hand in the doorjam and severely lacerating his finger.
In response to the advocacy efforts of immigrant dairy farmworkers and organizers with the Workers’ Center of Central New York and the Worker Justice Center of New York, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced in December 2013 the implementation of a Local Emphasis Program (LEP) for New York’s dairy industry. The implementation of the LEP will mark the first time that New York dairies are subject to surprise inspections, which will begin in July 2014. Previously, OSHA enforcement officials were only called onto farms if an accident was reported, or if a complaint was lodged against an employer. The reality is that accidents are frequently not reported and workers frequently do not file complaints out of fear of retaliation. We applaud OSHA’s announcement and believe that the LEP is an important step towards protecting the rights of all workers on dairy farms to a safe and healthy workplace. We encourage OSHA to take even further steps to ensure that all farms— irrespective of the number of employees, terms of employment, and housing arrangements—be required to comply with OSHA regulations, so that the needless deaths and injuries of dairyfarmworkers are brought to an end.