Potentially harmful appointee steps down after successful email campaign

In February of this year, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Sharon Runner to head the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) in California. The ALRB was created in 1975 in California to “ensure peace in the fields of California by guaranteeing justice for all agricultural workers and stability in agricultural labor relations.” (from ALRB website). The United Farm Workers union immediately opposed Runner’s nomination to the ALRB based on her previous voting record as a assemblymember of the California State Legislature against every major bill presented in the past six years that would have improved conditions for farm workers in California’s fields. The UFW launched an email campaign during the first week of March calling on its supporters to contact their state representatives and ask that Runner not be approved as the Governor’s appointee. Thousands of supporters participated in the campaign and their voices were heard! On Friday, March 27, Sharon Runner stepped down as the nominee to the ALRB. “The agricultural labor law is designed to protect farmworkers, and people who have consistently voted against farmworkers have no business sitting on the Agricultural Labor Relations Board”, said Maria Machuca, a UFW spokeswoman. 


Rule Changes Target Vulnerable Workers

The torrent of new rules being issued by the Bush administration as it heads out the door is turning into a regulatory fiasco. The changes have lowered the bar on environmental review across the board, from limiting worker exposure to toxins to ignoring provisions of the Clean Water Act and softening, if not gutting, the Endangered Species Act. Late last week, new rules targeted vulnerable members of the labor force — farmworkers.

Cal-OSHA to Review Handling of Heat Cases

Heatstroke caused seven confirmed deaths and more than 60 worker injuries this year, despite tougher regulations enacted in 2006 with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s strong backing. Many of the injured required emergency evacuation and hospitalization. More than half of the injured were agricultural laborers, as were four of the seven deaths.

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In the Trenches and Fighting Slavery

A delegation from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers recently took time during its “Northeast Tour for Fair Food” to visit The Nation offices in New York City. It was an honor to meet with them, to learn more about their work helping workers in the fields of Florida. We spent some time discussing how The Nation could continue to expose the working and living conditions of migrant workers and advocate for needed change.

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National Farm Worker Ministry
P.O. Box 10645
112 Cox Ave., Suite 208
Raleigh, NC 27605
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919-807-8707 (office)