Sunday, August 1, 2021

Play

Educators' unions call for efforts to ensure in-person learning keeps students, teachers, families, and staff safe; and an update on hate crimes by state.

Play

Congress passes Capitol security funding; House Freedom Caucus members want Cheney, Kinzinger out of GOP conference; Schumer closes a deal to advance $3.5 trillion reconciliation package; and a new report says investor-owned utilities try to block rooftop solar.

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

In addition to roof repairs and other home improvements to lower utility bills, a Michigan League for Public Policy report recommends expanding utility-shutoff protections to include households with young children. (Adobe Stock)

Environment

LANSING, Mich. - High utility costs are a major burden for Michigan's low-income residents, and a new study says they have an impact on their health…


Environment

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A new report shows an effort by investor-owned utilities in the Sunshine State to block the growth of rooftop solar. The …

Health and Wellness

By Troy Pierson / Broadcast version by Mary Schuermann reporting for the Kent State-Ohio News Connection Collaboration. As marijuana becomes more …


Across the United States, 46 states have laws allowing for harsher punishment for crimes based on bias. (Ludk/Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

SALT LAKE CITY - With rising numbers of people targeted in hate crimes and related violence, a new report analyzes the hate-crime laws in each state…

Social Issues

BOSTON - Educators' unions are calling on the state to support their efforts to ensure in-person learning in the fall keeps students, teachers…

According to AARP Connecticut, 47% of family caregivers have had at least one financial setback, such as having less money for retirement or savings, or cutting back on their own healthcare spending. (Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

HARTFORD, Conn. - In Connecticut, more than 460,000 people care for close friends or family members who can't manage on their own - and their …

Social Issues

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Millions of Americans soon could find eviction notices on their front doors, but New Mexico renters will not be among them - as …

Health and Wellness

CONCORD, N.H. - New Hampshire advocates for affordable healthcare access want Congress to lower prescription costs by allowing Medicare to negotiate …

 

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