Last week, more than a dozen farmworkers at the Crisalida Farm’s strawberry fields in California were fired when they left the field to take refuge from the smoke and ash from a nearby wildfire.
Workers said on May 2 ashes were falling on them and they were having difficulty breathing from the smoke from a wildfire 11 miles to the north. They were warned by the foreman that if they left because of the conditions, they would no longer have a job. Fifteen workers decided to leave because of the deplorable conditions. When they returned to work the next day, they discovered they had been fired.
The workers were not part of a union, but reached out to the United Farm Workers (UFW) for help. UFW negotiated with the upper management of Crisalida Farms on behalf of the workers, citing the union rule “No worker shall work under conditions where they feel his life or health is in danger.” As a result of the negotiations, all 15 workers have been offered their positions back. So far only one worker has accepted the offer while the others have found work elsewhere.