Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Protecting Farmworking Women

Here's something awful, write letters friends. Farmworkers (particularly women are really some of the most vulnerable folks in this country.
Though Threemile just produces milk and potatoes (mostly for McDonalds) seeing these alerts from United Farm Workers, and then of course being reminded of unbearable conditions during the "spinach scare" remind me to think more about where my food (and wine!) come from:

Threemile puts pregnant woman at risk

Threemile Canyon Farms in eastern Oregon is back to its shameful behavior of discrimination against women.
Threemile's latest intimidation of women is to avoid providing them with a separate changing area--a necessity as workers must wear coveralls to protect them from feces and urine. Laura Garay repeatedly spoke out on this issue and won. Now the company is making her pay for protecting her rights and the rights of other women.
A couple of weeks ago, Laura found out she was pregnant. One of Laura’s jobs was to bathe each cow’s udder with chemicals—which brings her face directly into the chemicals’ fumes. As no masks or protective gear are provided, it made her dizzy and worsened her morning sickness. Her job also required Laura to go up and down stairs. In order to protect her unborn child, Laura requested to be transferred to one of numerous other jobs at the dairy. Management said, if she could not do her job she would be fired.
A week ago, Laura slipped on cow manure and fell hard on her tail bone. She was sent to a company doctor who told her to take a day off and cleared her for reassignment for five days to a different job. On the sixth day, despite Laura telling management she was in a lot of pain because of the fall, they sent her back to her old job. When the pain became too much to bear and Laura felt she was going to faint, she demanded to be allowed to go to the hospital.
At the hospital, Laura discovered the company doctor misdiagnosed her. She likely had a fracture in her back and was told to avoid any physical activity. The doctor told Laura she couldn't understand how the company physician sent her back to work so quickly.
Laura is now at home recovering, waiting to see when the doctor at the hospital will let her return to work. She told us, "I'm really afraid that because of this fall and the hard work that they assign to me that I'll have some problem with my baby. I'm also worried that they're going to fire me because I'm pregnant or retaliate against me because I fell." Please help Laura and all the Threemile employees by writing a letter to McDonalds and ask the giant restaurant to use its influence to stop the problems at Threemile. McDonalds gets products from at least three different companies that buy milk and potatoes from Threemile. McDonalds’ code of conduct says, "We hold our suppliers responsible for ensuring adherence to our standards in their facilities and in subcontractor facilities that produce products for us...We will not do business with suppliers who fail to uphold our standards, in action as well as words." Yet McDonalds has repeatedly refused to take action. Please take action to help Laura and the Threemile workers!

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