Connect with us

News

Farm workers – “essential” but living in fear

Published

on

Farm Workers

LOS ANGELES (Diya TV) — They have very low wages, few benefits, no health care coverage, and no sick days. About half are undocumented. Yet they are deemed “essential” workers who harvest and package vegetables and fruits, work in meat packing plants, pick up and transport the product.

They are farm workers – so important to keeping the country fed and moving that they are exempt from ”stay at home” orders and even from the Trump administration’s recent two month ban on new immigrants. The rules for seasonal farmworkers have been relaxed and, if a recent proposal floated by the administration goes through, farmers may be allowed to “lower the wages” for them.

Now these workers work in fear of dying of Covid-19. So far very little has been done to stabilize their status, ensure they are protected and compensate them if they end of getting sick.

There is a growing push by legislators, trade unionists and advocacy groups “to protect farmworkers and the food supply chain,” Following reports in mid-April that 41 agricultural workers were diagnosed with Covid-19 in Monterey County, one of California’s key agricultural areas, California assembly members Robert Rivas (D-Hollister) and Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella) introduced the first Covid-19 relief package in the nation focused on farmworkers. The proposed legislation includes expanded paid sick leave, supplemental hazard pay to cover increased health and childcare costs, and other measures.

Meanwhile, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus wrote a letter to the leaders of both houses of Congress, urging financial assistance, support for child care needs and additional funding for community health centers and direct financial assistance for farm workers, reminding them that “our nation’s food security depends on the ability of farmworkers to continue to work safely to produce our food.”

Relief couldn’t come soon enough for the men and women in California’s fields.

Honduran Jose Ramos works at a vegetable packing house in Santa Maria near Santa Barbara. Ramos, a 41-year-old father of four, goes to work nervously because his company, he says, didn’t say anything about COVID-19 until a few days ago.

“Until recently they didn’t give us any guidance but many of us took our own measures, such as buying gel to bring in and making our own masks because the bosses didn’t give them to us,” Ramos explained. He noted that in his packing house social distancing was nearly impossible. “in the area where I work there are four packers, two cashiers and 8 to 10 cutters in a small space, forget about six feet. There are three feet at most between one person and the next.”

Armando Elenes, secretary-treasurer of the United Farm Workers, said 77 percent of workers in a recent survey reported that employers had not changed work practices or offered information on the pandemic.

“Now many are being told to go to work with a mask on, it’s like telling someone who has to dig holes in the ground to come with their own shovel. If you demand equipment to work, you must provide it,” said Elenes, who noted that there are individual farms that are improving their practices.

Cal OSHA regulations detail a prevention and safety program that all employers in the agricultural industry are required to implement, including worker training and information about what COVID-19 is and how it is spread, how to prevent it and what the symptoms are. Employers are required to implement on-farm safety measures and provide cleaners and disinfectants and hand washing units as well as measures to increase physical distance.  However, farm workers, trade unionists and health activists point out this has not been consistently enforced.

“ The California Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA) farmworker program receives numerous calls from workers,” says Estella M. Cisneros, regional director of the program. “They report that many companies have not taken any action.”

“They’re in a difficult situation,” Cisneros added. “If they work they can expose themselves and if they don’t work they have no income or help of any kind.”

Some farm workers also report that foremen or crew leaders spread misinformation and say the virus is not real. Most worried are those who work in meat or vegetable packing plants, since they work indoors and in air-conditioned environments, considered much more dangerous than working in the sun and outdoors, Cisneros added.A new report by the Civic Capacity Research Initiative (CCRI) at University of California in Merced, estimates that 42% of the 250,000 farm workers in the San Joaquin Valley are undocumented. At least 112,000 won’t receive the federal stimulus payment.

The report highlights other vulnerabilities exacerbated by the pandemic, including food and housing insecurity, lack of health benefits, lack of sick days, poor access to safety equipment. CCRI recommends that cities and counties in the Valley undertake policies to protect these workers.“Farm workers work under enormously unequal conditions,” said Genoveva Islas, director of Cultura Tu Salud, a public health advocacy organization in Fresno.
“I am proud that this community of farmworkers is recognized as essential workers, but that is why they also need essential protections. For too long they have not been paid a fair wage, have no retirement, and have no access to health insurance.

Now COVID-19 has magnified the inequalities that already existed.“In the San Joaquin Valley we have one percent of the nation’s agricultural land and produce 25% of America’s table food,” Islas says. “Anything that impairs our ability to do so would be catastrophic for California and potentially for our nation.”

Pilar Marreo (@PilarMarrero) is a Los Angeles based independent journalist who writes about politics, immigration, travel & food. She’s also a contributing Editor for Ethnic Media Services(EMS). This story was orginally published with EMS. 

 

News

Indiaspora releases 2021 government leaders list featuring over 200 members of Indian diaspora

Published

on

Indiaspora Releases 2021 Government Leaders List | Diya TV News

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — Nonprofit Indiaspora released their list recognizing more than 200 members of the Indian diaspora who are leaders in their countries’ governments. The leaders span the globe, with more than 60 holding Cabinet-level positions.

More than 32 million people of Indian origin live outside of India, the largest diaspora population in the world.

After entertaining pitches from a number of Indian states, Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa declared Tesla will set up its Indian production in his state. An electric vehicle pioneer, analysts forecast India could generate 5% of Tesla’s revenue in the next 5 years.

The late Indian American scientist Narinder Singh Kapany, the father of fiber optics, received a posthumous Padma Vibhushan, India’s second highest award. Singh died last year at the age of 94.

An Indian physicist’s revolutionary Black Hole research is turning 50 years old. C.V. Vishveshwara died in 2017, but his work lives on and continues to be honored. The Indian Association for General Relativity and Gravitation and The International Centre for Theoretical Sciences held an event in India to discuss the implications of Vishveshwara’s breakthrough. And now colleagues in his field around the world continue to be astounded at his research. Building off the work of Albert Einstein, Vishveshwara found that Black Holes had a structure, and if you banged on it, would vibrate like a bell. He first published this finding in the science journal “Nature.”

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

Continue Reading

News

Search continues for 12 yr old Arunay Pruthi lost at sea.

Published

on

One Month Since Arunay Pruthi’s Loss At Sea | Diya TV News

FREMONT, Calif. (Diya TV)  — It’s been a month since 12 year old Arunay Pruthi disappeared off the California coast. And while his family and their Fremont neighbors are devastated by his apparent loss, they continue to hold out hope they will find out what happened to the 7th grader. Pruthi was caught by dangerous surf at Cowell Ranch State Beach in Half Moon Bay and his father said he just drifted away. Despite hundreds of volunteers scouring the area, Pruthi hasn’t been seen since. There is a $50,000 reward for information leading to his discovery.

31 year old Ashwani Jain announced he’s running to become Maryland’s next governor. The Democrat recently ran unsuccessfully for Montgomery, Maryland City Council. He’s also a former Obama administration official.

Sean Desai made history, as he was named the Chicago Bears new defensive coordinator, making him the first Indian American ever to receive a coordinator job in the NFL. The 37 year old served as an assistant coach for several years before this promotion. Desai started his coaching career at Temple University, where he also received a doctorate in educational administration.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

Continue Reading

News

UN: Avoid Pakistani airlines over fake pilot licence scandal

Published

on

UN: Avoid Pakistani Airlines Over Fake Pilot Scandal | Diya TV News

SANTA CLARA (Diya TV) — The United Nations is telling its staff and partner agencies to avoid flying on all Pakistani airlines as the country continues to deal with a fake pilot license scandal. The warning means UN staff in Pakistan will be unable to fly internationally or domestically with these airlines, creating a travel nightmare.

The National Football League’s San Francisco 49ers is increasing its stake in soccer club Leeds United to 37 percent. And Indian American Paraag Marathe has been tapped to become Vice Chairman of the English Premier League team. Marathe will lead day to day operations and be more involved in the decision making process. The executive is still the 49ers Vice President of Football Operations, essentially the right hand man to owner Jed York.

As more foreign companies turn their backs on the United States, China and India are taking advantage. Direct investment in the US by overseas companies plummeted 49 percent last year according to a recent study. China’s grew by four percent to $163 billion. In India, foreign direct investment skyrocketed 13 percent last year to $57 billion. Policies allowing more foreign companies like Ikea and Uniqlo to open stores and increasing the country’s manufacturing base are some of the reasons for this growth.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

Continue Reading

Trending

Diya TV , Inc. © 2017 All Rights Reserved