Friday, May 19, 2006

The first line of my book Fruitflesh is "A strawberry changed my life." Now we have the chance to change the lives of those who pick the strawberries that end up on our tables.

Here is the latest bulletin from United Farm Workers:

"Coachella Valley strawberry workers need your help. The jobs they do are physically demanding, requiring workers to crouch and bend from the waist for prolonged periods of time. Pickers, who are often paid by piece work, need to work at a very fast pace in order to earn enough to take care of their families.

When workers perform work that hard, they expect to at least get paid what they are owed. But now we’re hearing many Coachella Valley strawberry workers are not getting paid for all the boxes they pick.

“At the end of the day, one is missing 2 to 3 boxes, but it is just not me, it is almost everyone in our crew. Imagine, 300 people working the strawberry and each one is missing 2 to 3 boxes, that’s a lot of money someone is keeping. I feel I work very hard for someone to take some of my earnings. Then, when you try to get it corrected, the supervisor denies the incident and becomes verbally abusive.” -- Leonor Gonzalez

These strawberry workers face other abuses. Restrooms in the fields are too far away from where they labor. The foreman won’t separate restrooms from his truck—where the workers' lunches are also stored despite repeated requests. So the workers’ food attracts flies from the restrooms.

Strawberry workers do not have to endure these conditions. Last March, the United Farm Workers signed a historic new contract with the nation’s largest strawberry employer, Coastal Berry Co. It provides the best pay and health care coverage for strawberry workers in the nation as well as a grievance system which protects the workers’ basic rights.

Please help us organize these strawberry workers, so they can win fair pay and an end to these abuses. Make your secure donation today. To show our appreciation, we will send you a special "Justicia y Dignidad" (Justice and Dignity) strawberry button for donating $20 or more. "

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