THERMAL – The vast farm fields of the East Valley hide the fact that some farm workers are being abused. Some workers toil away in the summer heat with few water and shade breaks.
Four local farm companies were punished by state officials for labor violations.
They are Valley Breeze Farms and Salvador Alvarado contracting company in Coachella, Young’s Nursery in Thermal, and Galvan Brothers, Inc. in Mecca.
Valley Pride is one company caught keeping workers in 108 degree heat with no shade breaks.
When we asked about the reported violations,managers at Valley Pride declined to comment on camera.
When we asked for the manager’s name, the manager simply replied, “No. It’s OK. Thank you.”
CAL/OSHA inspectors also say Young’s Nursery in Thermal forced workers to work non-stop in the heat with little water.
A manager there told us she had no comment when we approached her office before she closed the door.
We found one laborer clearing weeds from a nearby farm. In Spanish, he tells us his farm comes by with water every 15 minutes and he has plenty to drink.
Hidden Harvest hires many farm laborers for their charity work, fully aware of the state requirements for treating workers.
“Restrooms for male and female; hot and cold water; Paper towels; Adequate drinking water, and that meanstwo gallons per person on the crew,” director Christy Porter explained the requirements.”We had a 20-man crew this morning picking bell peppers. That means 40 gallons of water.”
State officials shut thefour farms down until they fix the problems at future inspections.
“They just drive around and if they see a crew operating, one of the things you can absolutely tell by looking is ‘where’s the water? where are the restrooms?’ That would make an OSHA inspector stop right there,” added Porter.