Thursday, December 1, 2022

Play

Access to medication is key to HIV prevention, a Florida university uses a religious exemption to disband its faculty union, plus Nevada tribes and conservation leaders praise a new national monument plan.

Play

The House passed a bill to avert a crippling railroad strike, Hakeem Jefferies is chosen to lead House Democrats, and President Biden promises more federal-Native American engagement at the Tribal Nations Summit.

Play

The first-ever "trout-safe" certification goes to an Idaho fish farm, the Healthy Housing Initiative helps improve rural communities' livability, and a new database makes it easier for buyers and builders to find available lots.

Court Slashes Fine for WA Farm Where Worker Died

Play

Wednesday, June 20, 2018   

BELLINGHAM, Wash. – Farm-labor advocacy groups are furious after a District Court judge in Bellingham slashed the fine to $36,500 on Tuesday for a blueberry farm accused of unsafe working conditions, after a worker there collapsed and died last August.

The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries previously found Sarbanand Farms not liable for the death of Honesto Silva Ibarra, a 28-year-old father of two, but it found the company failed to offer enough rest and dinner breaks.

Rosalinda Guillen, executive director of the nonprofit Community2Community Development, said the farm had people working 12- to 14-hour days, despite thick smoke from a nearby wildfire. She charged that managers ignored Ibarra's request for medical help until it was too late.

"He did have diabetes, but his death was caused by overwork, by not enough food, but also extreme dehydration and overwork outside in the fields, during a time when that smoke was covering all of Whatcom County," said Guillen.

The state originally considered a fine of $145,000, but settled on $73,000. Then the district court cut it in half. However, state law allows the district court to charge an assessment, which could bring the final number up to almost $75,000. The company did not accept responsibility for Ibarra's death and argued the fine should be lowered because managers kept good records and cooperated with investigators.

Ibarra was hired in Mexico to come to Washington on an H2A visa held by the company, not the worker. Guillen said that means workers can't flee to another job if working conditions are unsafe.

"For us it's immoral, the fact that the life of a farm worker has been negotiated down to $35,000. And the reason they bring in these H2-A workers is because they are exploitable," she said. "It's like slavery. It's like the value of a worker is actually being calculated. It's disgusting."

She said she's convinced that farm work should be done by union workers with proper breaks, salaries and benefits, and said her group will continue to protest working conditions on farms in Whatcom County.


get more stories like this via email

The gold dome on the Iowa Capitol has been gilded five times. The gold leaf covering the dome is 250,000th of an inch thick and is 23.75 karats. (Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

2022 was a banner year for women elected as governor. Nearly one-third of America's governors will be women next year, which is a record. Iowa …


Environment

Residential water rates in Michigan are soaring, with an estimated one out of ten households without access to or unable to afford clean water…

Environment

Fracking is a very water-intensive industry, and a new study dives into the impact of unconventional oil and gas drilling on aquatic ecosystems in …


Tom Oliver, center, receives the 2022 Washington Andrus Award for Community Service. (Bruce Carlson/AARP Washington)

Social Issues

A Bellingham man who supports people with dementia has received one of the most prestigious awards for volunteerism in Washington state. The …

Social Issues

Native American tribal communities and conservation groups got a big win Wednesday as President Joe Biden announced he intends to create a new nationa…

The 2020 Iowa caucuses were beset with tabulation problems, which set off a discussion on whether to shake up the Democratic primary process. (Scoutori/Adobestock)

Social Issues

A decision could come today on Nevada's bid to become the first state in the nation to hold a Democratic primary in 2024. The Democratic National …

Environment

Snow is on the ground in much of Minnesota, but the state is coming off another warm season with notable drought conditions. Those who monitor …

Environment

By Ray Levy Uyeda for Yes! Magazine.Broadcast version by Mike Moen for Greater Dakota News Service reporting for the Solutions Journalism Network-…

 

Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member- and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021