United Farm Workers (UFW) is calling on Cal/OSHA to take more action to ensure farmworkers have N95 masks as wildfire smoke continues to blanket agricultural valleys in California.
The labor union ran a poll among its members recently and found 84% of workers had not received masks from their employers. Cal/OSHA passed a regulation last year requiring employers to provide N95s when the air quality index hits 151.
UFW said Cal/OSHA is putting workers “in grave danger” by not being in the fields to proactively monitor the situation. It said it had secured 50,000 N95s to distribute.
Less than 1% of farmworkers belong to a union.
The California Fresh Fruit Association and California Farmworker Foundation announced yesterday they have distributed 50,000 N95s and surgical masks to ag employees across the Central Valley. This adds to a number of efforts from other ag groups as well as CDFA delivering 1.4 million masks.
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Gov. Newsom announced Wednesday a new agreement with a medical company to more than double the amount of COVID-19 testing in the state.
Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez of San Diego said this would help Latinos, who “perform the essential work in our agricultural fields, our garment factories and our meatpacking plants.” She added that “our essential workers will have more access to information to protect themselves.”