11 a.m., August 2, in Bakersfield
UFW's Rodriguez and family of dead
Giumarra worker urge grape growers to
act voluntarily to prevent deaths
On one of the hottest days of the year last Wednesday, Giumarra Vineyards Corp. grape picker Asuncion Valdivia, 53, became ill and died after a company foreman cancelled paramedics who might have saved his life.
Along with members of Valdivia's family, United Farm Workers President Arturo Rodrgiuez will use an 11 a.m. Monday news conference in Bakersfield to urge all table grape growers to “immediately take voluntary steps to prevent further death and suffering.” Rodriguez will release a letter he is sending today to area grape growers urging them to “consult with emergency medical experts and set up adequate programs and procedures responding to emergencies resulting from extreme heat.”
Asuncion was picking table grapes at a Giumarra ranch near Interstate 5 between Arvin and Mettler on July 28. In 100-plus heat, he became weak, dizzy, nauseated and unable to talk.
The paramedics were called, but after Asuncion felt a little better, the Giumarra foreman cancelled the paramedics and told Asuncion¹s son, Luis Angel, 21, also a worker, that his father would be all right and to take him home.
While driving to their home in Pixley, Luis Angel watched as his father sweated and vomited, and his pulse became very rapid. The son drove him to Kern Medical Center in Bakersfield. The father was declared dead on arrival at the hospital. To date, the Valdivia family has heard nothing, not even condolences, from Giumarra.
“This is an opportunity for you and the table grape industry to demonstrate genuine respect and concern for your workers before being compelled to do so through legislation or regulatory action,” Rodriguez will
tell the growers.
Who: UFW President Arturo Rodriguez and survivors of Giumarra grape worker Asuncion Valdivia, who died Wednesday after a foreman cancelled paramedics who may have saved his life.
What: Calling on all table grape growers to voluntarily take immediate steps to protect workers from the extreme heat.
When: 11 a.m., Monday, Aug. 2, 2004.
Where: Leviton, Diaz & Ginocchio law firm, 1800 - 30th St., Ste. 360, Bakersfield.
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Letter to area table grape growers from United Farm Workers President Arturo Rodriguez - 8/2/04
Has the life of another farm worker been needlessly lost?
In a 1989 speech, Cesar Chavez asked, “What is the worth of a man or a woman? What is the worth of a farm worker? How do you measure the value of a life?”
The life of Asuncion Valdivia didn't appear to be very valuable to his employer, Giumarra Vineyards Corp., America's largest table grape producer. A Giumarra foreman cancelled the paramedics who might have saved his life after he become very sick picking table grapes on one of the hottest days of the year last Wednesday, July 28, 2004, at a Giumarra ranch near Arvin and Mettler.
At the height of the summer harvest season temperatures often top 100 degrees. Most table grape producers like Giumarra take few, if any, steps to prevent or treat symptoms suffered by workers such as Asuncion Valdivia. Few workers are provided with salt tablets. Sometimes they are not adequately supplied with cool, clean drinking water.
We can't wait for the government or Legislature to act. So the United Farm Workers of America, AFL-CIO today asks that you and all area table grape growers immediately take voluntary steps to prevent further death and suffering.
* We call upon you to immediately consult with emergency medical experts and set up adequate programs and procedures responding to emergencies resulting from extreme heat.
* Your foremen and supervisors should be properly trained in identifying and treating symptoms and knowing when to call for help.
* During these severe conditions, you need to make sure your workers have access to cool and clean drinking water, even above the standards required by state law.
Asuncion became weak, dizzy and nauseated last Wednesday. The paramedics were called, but after Asuncion felt a little better, in the opinion of the Giumarra foreman, the foreman cancelled the paramedics and told Asuncion's son, Luis Angel, 21, also a worker, that his father would be all right and to take him home.
While driving to their home in Pixley, Luis Angel watched as his father became very ill. Asuncion was sweating and vomiting and his pulse was very rapid. The son drove him to Kern Medical Center in Bakersfield. He was declared dead on arrival at the hospital.
If paramedics had been permitted to arrive, they would have been much better trained and equipped to offer the kind of timely medical care that might have saved Asuncion's life.
To date, Asuncion's family has heard nothing from Giumarra Vineyards Corp.: no apology, no explanation—not even an expression of sympathy for their terrible loss.
This is an opportunity for you and the table grape industry to demonstrate genuine respect and concern for your workers before being compelled to do so through legislation or regulatory action.
In eulogizing 19 farm workers killed in an Imperial Valley bus accident in 1974, Cesar Chavez declared that farm workers “are not implements to be used and discarded. They are human beings who sweat and sacrifice to bring food to the tables of millions of people throughout the world. They are important because God made them, gave them life, and cares for them in life and death.”
Asuncion Valdivia surely rests in the warm embrace of His protection. The workers who remain can be protected if you and the other growers act immediately by taking these basic precautions. We ask you to respond to my office on this appeal.
Thank you for your anticipated cooperation on this most urgent matter.
Arturo S. Rodriguez, President