Health & Occupational Safety

Farmworker Justice Rises

Today, Farmworker Justice will rise. We will rise in solidarity with the Alianza Nacional de Campesinas (Alliance of Women Farmworkers) and others all over the world to end violence against women. We will rise as a part of One Billion Rising.

One Billion Rising, an international event that aims to bring attention to the issue of violence against women, will take place on February 14, 2013. The event is organized by V-Day, a non-profit organization founded by Eve Ensler, the playwright of the Vagina Monologues. Why One Billion Rising? Because approximately one billion women have been victims of violence around the world. Among these women are farmworkers.

Farmworker women and girls in the United States are at high risk of sexual violence and sexual harassment in the fields. Indigenous women are especially vulnerable. Many have limited Spanish proficiency and are discriminated against due to their ethnicity or language. According to a report last year from Human Rights Watch, women in the fields are subjected to rape, coercive sexual conduct, groping, and verbal harassment from foremen, supervisors, farm labor contractors and others who have the power to hire and fire workers. Few women report these abuses. They fear employer retaliation. They lack information about their rights in the workplace. They are ashamed of telling others about what happened to them. They fear that reporting may reveal their documentation status and/or the documentation status of loved ones. They lack the resources to complete the lengthy and complicated reporting process.  

Quantifying the economic impact of occupational injuries and illnesses in the United States

As farmworker advocates, we understand the emotional, physical and economic toll of occupational injuries and illness on farmworkers. Recently, a report came out that detailed the cost of occupational injuries and illness in the US. Paul Leigh, from the University of California, Davis conducted an economic analysis focused on low-wage occupations, defined as jobs that pay an hourly rate below $11.18.

More Pesticides Mean More Risks for Farmworkers & Their Children

As farmworkers plant, weed, irrigate, and harvest our fruits and vegetables, they are at constant risk for exposure to dangerous pesticide residues. These residues cling to plants and are easily absorbed into the soil. Farmworkers are continuously exposed as they engage in their daily work tasks.

 

Pesticide Perils: Children at Risk

Last week the Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) released a report entitled A Generation in Jeopardy: How Pesticides are Undermining our Children’s Health and Intelligence highlighting the disturbing connections between pesticide exposure and an alarming array of health risks, particularly for young children.

National Health Center Week: FJ & Migrant Health Centers

Throughout the week, Farmworker Justice highlighted the role of community and migrant health centers in the health and well-being of our nation’s farmworkers. Unfortunately, these health centers are under-utilized by farmworkers and their families. In fact, it is estimated that only 20% of farmworkers seek services at health centers. The barriers farmworkers face to access healthcare are numerous: poverty, insurance coverage, immigration status, transportation, fear of employer retaliation, limited English proficiency, lack of information…and the list goes on.

National Health Center Week: Community/Migrant Health Centers and the Affordable Care Act

President Obama’s healthcare reform legislation, formally known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA), is moving towards full implementation.  By 2014, all parts of the law, including health insurance exchanges and Medicaid expansion (for those states that choose to expand their Medicaid programs) will be in effect.  Thanks to the ACA,  the Congressional Budget Office estimates that between 20 million and 23 million people will receive coverage through the state insurance exchanges and 16 to 17 million additional people will be enrolled in Medicaid.

National Health Center Week: Migrant Health Centers in their Communities

Migrant health centers play a vital role in educating their communities on health risks associated with farm work. A farmworker’s health and well-being is impacted by his/her living and working conditions.  Often, farmworkers perform hazardous work and live in substandard housing.  Hours of performing backbreaking and repetitive tasks put farmworkers at risk for musculoskeletal injuries.

FJ Celebrates National Health Center Week

This week, health centers across the country are holding events to celebrate their contributions to their communities. Community and Migrant Health Centers are an integral part of the U.S. healthcare system.  They provide affordable, high quality primary preventative healthcare to medically underserved populations across the United States, including farmworkers and their families.  Farmworkers are not only the health centers’ patients; they are also active members of the health centers’ governing boards.

Indigenous Farmworkers Face Unique Barriers to Healthcare

As a Peace Corps Volunteer in Guatemala, I lived and worked in an indigenous community where the women wore traditional dress and the primary language was Maya K’iche.  Although many of my community members had lived and worked in the United States, I was unaware how dominant and diverse indigenous culture was in the United States, especially in the agricultural sector.

Health Care is a Human Right for All

Farmworker Justice believes that our nation’s farmworkers deserve quality healthcare that is affordable, accessible and culturally appropriate. The right to healthcare goes beyond access to health services.  It also encompasses safe housing and working conditions and access to healthy food.

Healthcare is internationally recognized as an essential human right.  According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which the U.S. is a signatory,

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