A message from the United Farm Workers:
“We’ve shared workers’ stories with you about the injured and sick cows at Darigold dairies. Sadly, these injuries also go for workers. Working with dairy cows is not easy. A dairy cow typically weighs 1,400 pounds– almost 3/4 of a ton. As a live animal, it has a mind of its own and does what it wants. Working with these animals takes skills and knowledge. If you’re not careful, you get injured. According to the Department of Labor, in 2012 at least 5.6% of dairy workers were injured, almost twice the average of 3.2% for private industry.
‘Pedro,’ not his real name, received no training before being put to work with cows. He had to learn the work on the fly. The work is grueling: no breaks, no holidays, and lots of pressure. One day, while working outside where the cows are corralled, a cow fell on top of him and smashed his left knee. He wonders how he is going to pay his bills, and if he is ever going to do the kind of work he used to do before the injury. He’s currently on temporary disability for 60% of his salary, but is concerned about being fired when he returns to his job.
Another worker, we’ll call him ‘Juan’ (we are unable to reveal his name as he is afraid of retaliation) tells us about getting injured on the job. ‘A cow crushed me in the alley concrete walls and it fractured three of my ribs. I reported this to my boss …The boss was blaming me. I told her I was going to the hospital because I couldn’t breathe and I was feeling dizzy. When I coughed phlegm with blood, I got really fearful and I thought I had hurt or damaged my lung. I asked her to take me to the doctor and she told me that she couldn’t, to call someone to pick me up, because she was not going to leave her job.’ It was seven hours until Juan’s brother was able to come and take him to the doctor.
‘Efren’ had worked for 8 years at Darigold dairy. He had 3 accidents, his last one on May 12th of this year. He didn’t even have the time to tell his supervisor that he had hurt his back before he was fired. Getting injured is about more than just the physical pain. Efren’s family is also feeling the impact. ‘I felt really bad when my daughter asked me for money for the college tuition and I couldn’t help her with any money.’ Please support Pedro, Juan, Efren and the hundreds of other dairy workers injured every year.
All workers should receive adequate training, injured workers should receive prompt medical attention and should not have to be afraid of being fired for getting injured. These are basic rights, but rights not respected at every Darigold dairy. The Kroger Co. operates also under the following banners: Kroger, Ralphs, Dillons, Smith’s, King Soopers, Fry’s, QFC, City Market, Owen’s, Jay C, Payless, Baker’s, Gerbers, Scott’s Food and Pharmacy, Harris Teeter, Food 4 Less, and Food Co. It is a major seller of Darigold milk. As a large retailer and someone who sells Darigold products, you’d think they’d do something about what’s going on. But they remain silent.”