farm workers

 

A COVID-19 vaccine clinic at the Fresno County Fairgrounds is now equipped to administer 1,500 shots per day, according to county officials during a press conference on Tuesday.

The clinic, which began operating at reduced capacity on January 6, is open to healthcare workers in Phase 1A of the state’s vaccination schedule, as well as individuals 75 years or older. Appointments are required.

 

On this week's Valley Edition:  Why a state program that provides free COVID-19 hotel rooms to farmworkers is going largely unutilized.  

Plus Pulitzer Prize winning journalist John Branch tells us how wildfires and climate change are endangering California’s most iconic trees.

And a cornerstone of the Armenian community, Hye Quality Bakery, has closed its doors.

On this week's Valley Edition: We look at what will happen to the Fresno nonprofits providing COVID assistance to the community if CARES Act funding disappears at the end of the year.

Plus, a new UC Merced photo exhibition documents the lives and struggles of Central Valley farmworkers in the 1960s. 

And StoryCorps San Joaquin is back with a look at how Fresno’s CMAC got started.

UC Merced, Library and Special Collections: Ernest Lowe Photography Collection

Images captured by photographer Ernest Lowe tell the story of Central Valley farmworkers and the activists who fought for improved conditions in the 1960s. Last year UC Merced hosted an exhibition of some of those photographs, and now has acquired the complete collection - which the university has made available free to the public online.

On this week's Valley Edition: We take a look at the COVID-19 Equity Project aimed at preventing the spread of the virus in some of Fresno’s most vulnerable neighborhoods.

Plus, he lost his quesadilla stand to the pandemic. Now this LA cook is using his skills to feed communities including farm workers near Selma.

And we look at strategies to find permanent homes for people experiencing homelessness.

Madi Bolanos / KVPR

Before the pandemic hit, Heleo Leyva owned a quesadilla stand in East Hollywood, where he offered a special: buy one quesadilla, share the other for a discounted price.

But when he lost customers due to the pandemic and had to close his stand, he started a GoFundMe site to help pay his bills. That’s when he realized he could also use social media to feed others. His first step was creating a community fridge, where people could donate food.

As fires continue to ravage Northern California, farm workers in the San Joaquin Valley now have to protect themselves from poor air quality on top of COVID-19. One farm worker says it’s made working in the fields even harder.

 

Oralia Bautista is 34 years old. Six days a week she commutes with her husband from Fresno to pick tomatoes in Firebaugh. While working, she always wears a mask.

 

“It helps filter out the bad air we’re breathing, but it's also hard because well, it’s hard to breathe with the mask on to begin with,” she said.

 

As COVID-19 outbreaks in food production plants continue to make workers sick in the San Joaquin Valley, employees at one plant outside Bakersfield are calling on the State Attorney General to step in.

Primex Farms in Wasco employs around 400 people. As of last Wednesday, 150 workers had tested positive for COVID-19 and over 70 had gone back to work, a company spokesman said. 

 

But Armando Elenes, secretary treasurer for the United Farm Workers, said workers did not find out about the outbreak through their employer.

 

Joel Martinez

As COVID-19 cases in the San Joaquin Valley continue to climb, the Fresno County Department of Agriculture recently secured nearly one million masks to help protect the county’s agricultural workers.  

 

Melissa Cregan, the agricultural commissioner for the county, said the masks came from California’s Department of Food and Agriculture and the Office of Emergency Services.

 

“We’ve probably received over 800,000 of the face coverings and we’ve distributed probably over 700,000 of those,” said Cregan.  

 

© 1978 George Ballis/Take Stock

Adios Amor tells the story of one woman who should have made it into the history books but didn't. Maria Moreno was the first female farm worker to be hired as a union organizer.

 

Originally from Texas, Moreno lived with her husband and 12 children working in the fields. She was an indigenous woman with only a second-grade education but used her voice to rally support for farm workers' rights. 

 

UCLA

The San Joaquin Valley’s farm workers are some of the hardest working people in the world. They toil for long hours in the fields to pick the food that feeds the world. While we all eat their produce, for many Americans farm workers don’t inspire admiration, but instead resentment and hostility. Anti-immigrant sentiment often revolves around the notion that undocumented workers are taking jobs that legal residents would otherwise be happy to do.

California Citrus Mutual

The law enforcement agency Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, may be ramping up its inspections of worksites—and a Valley grower is one of the first to feel the consequences.

Fowler-based Bee Sweet Citrus says it may have lost a fifth of its workforce in anticipation of an inspection by ICE. The federal agency notified Bee Sweet that later this month, it would conduct an I-9 inspection. Meaning the company will need to hand over the forms that verify the identity and employment authorization of each of its employees.

Amanda Monaco / Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability

 

A new ride share program is bringing the convenience of services like Uber and Lyft to rural valley communities. The service known “Van y Vienen” is aiming to help residents who lack easy transportation options.

The program launched Wednesday in Cantua Creek and El Porvenir, two unincorporated communities in western Fresno County. Both lack grocery stores and medical clinics and have little cell phone service. Until recently, locals without cars have relied on neighbors to get around.

 

Kern County Public Health Dept

Fourteen farm workers in Kern County have been treated for exposure to a chemical after a presumed case of pesticide drift early this morning near Bakersfield. Kern County Public Health officials say the incident took place near Gosford Road and Taft Highway. The source of the pesticide is not known, but an adjacent field had been treated with a soil fumigant just yesterday. Kern County fire and hazardous materials teams also responded and treated workers who were exposed to the chemicals.

U.S. Department of Agriculture / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode

It's no secret here in Central California that many, if not most, people who work  in the fields in Valley agriculture are undocumented immigrants.

Kerry Klein/KVPR

Right now, Clovis Community College is hosting an exhibit from the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. It’s all about the Bracero program, a controversial government campaign in the mid-20th century that brought Mexican men into the U.S. seasonally to work the fields. Alongside the Smithsonian exhibit are paintings by Eliana Soto, a local artist whose grandfather was a Bracero. She tells Kerry Klein about exploring her family’s history through art as part of our first-person series My Valley, My Story.

Diana Aguilera / Valley Public Radio

A new state law means some California farmworkers are now entitled to back pay. FM89’s Diana Aguilera reports a local union is working to spread the word among workers.  

The law says workers who weren’t paid accurately from July 2012 to December 2015 have the right to back pay for rest periods and unproductive time. This includes time for training, traveling, and moving from and to fields.

The United Farm Workers union is currently reaching out to farm laborers to let them know about the law before it goes into effect January 1st.

Cesar Chavez Foundation

People from all over the country are celebrating the life of Cesar Chavez today. He would have turned 88. Now as FM89’s Diana Aguilera explains, some are also using the late labor leader’s birthday to bring back a movement to make Chavez a Catholic saint.

Supporters of the civil rights activist say the canonization of Cesar Chavez is not a far-fetched idea. This past weekend at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in San Jose, where Chavez once lived, Father Jon Pedigo renewed the call for sainthood. He says Chavez performed miracles of social change worthy of a saint.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

 A new bill in Sacramento would help provide medical coverage for farm workers. Fm89’s Diana Aguilera explains more about the attempt to provide health care for all.

Assembly Bill 1170 would create a pilot program to pay for medical, surgical, and hospital treatment for farm workers. It would not only cover on-the-job injuries but also other illnesses.

Assembly member Luis Alejo (D-Salinas) says he introduced the bill because everyone should have access to health care.

Creative Commons licensed from Flickr user Glenngould / http://www.flickr.com/photos/for_tea_too/1957375742/

California’s farm fields can be threatening places for agriculture workers. But a new law going into effect next year is designed to make those fields a bit safer. As part of our annual new law series, Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.

The law will require farm labor contractors to provide all supervisors, foremen and employees with sexual harassment training. Democratic Senator Bill Monning authored the bill. He says there’s an epidemic of harassment and assault of California farm workers.

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