September 29, 2021: Alianza Nacional de Campesinas welcomes the Biden-Harris administration’s multi-pronged approach to address heat stress, and emphasizes the need to rapidly implement these efforts in a manner that upholds the rights of workers and communities. This cross-agency initiative plans to begin the rulemaking process to create a federal heat standard, provide cooling assistance to households and communities, identify and address disproportionate heat impacts, and enhance heat illness data to improve local preparedness.
As temperatures continue to rise, so do heat related illnesses and injuries for millions of workers, and for Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities across the country. Due to the worsening effects of climate change, this year has been the hottest on record, and farm and food system workers have been particularly impacted. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), farmworkers are 20 times more likely to die from heat related illness compared to any other U.S civilian worker. Elevated body temperatures can cause long term health issues for farmworkers, which often include pregnant people and children as young as 12.
Elvira Carvajal, a lead organizer for Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, said, “farmworkers, including farmworker women like myself, deserve better protections and working conditions. We are thankful that this administration is taking our demands seriously and considering the needs of some of the most vulnerable.”
Alianza Nacional de Campesinas has long advocated for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to adopt and implement a federal heat stress standard to protect farm and food system workers from heat-related injuries and illness. While we welcome the administration’s efforts, we are concerned by the involvement of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), given the well-documented history of human rights abuses and civil rights violations by DHS, its components, and its private contractors. We call on the Biden-Harris administration to urgently address the dangerous effects of heat stress for workers within and beyond our food systems, and resoundingly reject any effort to expand immigration enforcement and detention operations as part of this initiative or any other.
“We continue to advocate for robust heat stress protections and other safeguards for farmworker women and families, and to move away from the racist, xenophobic detention and deportation systems that harm immigrant and migrant communities,” said María De Luna, Alianza’s National Policy & Advocacy Coordinator.
Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, Inc. (Alianza) is the first national farmworker women’s organization in the United States founded and led by farmworker women, and those who hail from farmworker families. A coalition of 15 grassroots, farmworker organizations across 11 states and the District of Columbia, Alianza Nacional de Campesinas advocates for the civil, constitutional, and human rights of our country’s more than 700,000 farmworker women, and other women workers, who form the backbone of our farm and food systems.