All the workers were legally working at the location under the H-2A temporary visa, the U.S. Department of Labor said, which means Gonzalez was required by law to pay them fair wages and house them in proper living quarters. The workers, with duties that included cultivating and harvesting potatoes, watermelon, and onions, were required to work 40-hour weeks for $10.95 minimum hourly rate, but that was not the case.
Kristina Espinoza, a labor department investigator, told The Los Angeles Times that Gonzalez was paying the workers $0.13 to $0.70 per bag. She also described the farm as a “makeshift labor camp” that was “dangerous” and “unsanitary.”
The conditions of their “home” sound truly terrifying. The workers apparently showered in stalls that were inside a cargo container. They didn’t have a working sewage system, and had to share one toilet in the trailer or resort to using port-a-potties.
Gonzalez responded to the charges by placing the workers at two hotels. But just last week, an employee told the labor department that Gonzalez charged his own employees for staying at the hotel.
The Coronavirus pandemic has forced millions of Americans to shelter in place from the safety of their homes. Meanwhile, millions of others are on the frontlines keeping this country running. They’re now known as “essential workers” and they’re made up of healthcare workers, grocery store clerks, fast food attendants, line cooks at local restaurants, janitors, meat processing plant workers, and agricultural workers.
These roles now deemed “essential” all have one thing in common – they employ a higher percentage of immigrant and undocumented workers than most other segments of the economy.
And with Cinco de Mayo happening tomorrow, there is a star-studded event taking place that we all need to show up to – even if we don’t get out of our sweatpants.
Farmworkers and the undocumented community are more vulnerable now than ever – and they need your help.
More than an estimated three million farmworkers are on the frontlines, helping support the global food supply. And they’re doing it during a global health crisis.
About 50% of the agricultural workforce is comprised of undocumented immigrants. Because of the nature of their work, physical distancing is difficult to abide by as is handwashing and other CDC requirements. They’re also missing required protective gear, including masks. All while having to face the constant fear of deportation.
And while the government has stepped up in some ways to help those who have lost their jobs because of the pandemic – they are specifically excluding undocumented workers (even those deemed essential) from receiving federal aid.
And that’s where Altísimo Live comes in!
In an effort to provide for farmworkers throughout the U.S., RetroPop Media and iHeartLatino joined forces to develop Altísimo Live!. Together with the iHeartLatino Chairman and Chief Creative Officer Enrique Santos, Eva Longoria will host this huge, star-studded concert, which will feature some of the biggest Latino artists.
So how do you attend a virtual event?
Altísimo Live is a free event but its organizers are asking for $5 donations from viewers in an effort to support the community. All you have to do. Is text “Cinco” to 91999 or you can donate directly to the Farmworkers’ Pandemic Relief Fund. They hope to raise $3 million to provide care and supplies to farmworkers and their families.
The bilingual event kicks off across the concert’s official social media pages: Facebook Live, YouTube, Twitter, Periscope, and Twitch simultaneously on Tuesday, May 5th at 1 p.m. ET. They’re going to lead the event off with an interactive tailgating experience and then sets of continuous performances. There will even be interactive Q&As between artists and their fans at 8 p.m. ET.
All from the comfort of your own home.
And trust, this is one you’re going to want to tune into.
The long list of celebrities performing includes Maluma, Becky G, Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Jesse & Joy, A.B. Quintanilla III y Los Kumbia Allstarz, Juanes, Luis Fonsi, Nicky Jam, Maná, Ivy Queen, Los Tigres del Norte, Carlos Vives, and Marc Anthony and others. Additionally, Sofia Vergara, J Balvin, Kate del Castillo, Rosario Dawson, and Alejandro Sanz will make appearances.
Fashion designers Mario De la Torre, Carlos Marrero, and Raul Peñaranda, will also join the event to share how they are using their talent and unique designs in support of the pandemic relief effort. Some of their special edition farmworker-inspired designs will be available for purchase in support of the event.
How else can you show love for the community?
So although the event is free, the organizers are looking to raise that $3 million at $5 a person. Incredible! But in addition to donating, you can also show your support for the event by blasting it across your social media using #AltisimoLive, #CincoOnCinco and #SupportFarmworkers.
Some of the event’s proceeds will also benefit Coalition of Florida Farmworker Organizations, East Coast Migrant Head Start Project, NC Fields, La Cooperativa Campesina de California, LULAC of Puerto Rico, La Union del Pueblo Entero in Texas and more.
However, the concert series isn’t just about raising money for farmworkers. It’s also a reminder that they are appreciated and that we as a community have their back.
You can also wear your support on your sleeve!
You can also literally wear your support for farmworkers on your sleeve and help support the event’s organizations. Mitú has launched a womens, mens and kids t-shirt line with the Farmworkers Are Always Essential slogan on them. Twenty percent of the proceeds from the sale of every t-shirt on the Mitú shop will go to the Farmworkers Pandemic Relief Fund.
Tune in to Altísimo Live! on Tuesday, May 5th starting at 10 a.m. PT, 1 p.m. ET.
Share this story with all of your friends by tapping our little share buttons below!
No matter what is happening in the world, farmworkers are always there to make sure that we have food. We have seen images of farmworkers in the fields during wildfires and other natural disasters. The COVID-19 pandemic is no different and some people have come together to show them some love.
Farmworkers are still in the fields harvesting produce so we can all have food while sheltering at home.
Farmworkers have been deemed as essential during the pandemic and they are still in the fields picking the fruits and vegetables we all need during this time. Unlike most people, the farmworkers, who are largely migrants, are risking their health to make sure that we all have the food we all want and need.
One group of farmworkers got a moment of love and appreciation from people who rely on them.
Despite being deemed essential and being given paperwork that lists them as essential, they are still not protected. According to The New York Times, the same workers deemed as essential are still at risk every day of being arrested, detained, and deported because of their immigration status.
The small parade of love has received national attention on social media.
The photos came from a farm in California, which has a high undocumented population, especially among farmworkers. According to data on undocumented immigrant stimulus checks offered, there are about 2.3 million undocumented people living in California.
People in the mini parade held signs offering messages of love and appreciation for the people working in the fields.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus have both called on Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to develop a plan to help detainees during this time. Immigration and criminal justice reform advocates fear the devastating impact COVID-19 could have on people currently detained.
“Immigration detention should not be a death sentence,” Andrea Flores, ACLU deputy director of policy, Equality Division said in a statement. “Detention in ICE facilities is inherently dangerous as we endure the COVID-19 pandemic, and ICE has demonstrated it is unable to provide safe and sanitary conditions — even in the best of circumstances. This extraordinary public health crisis compels an extraordinary response. Temporarily suspending enforcement and releasing those in detention is necessary both for the safety of detainees and staff and to flatten the curve for all.”
The group, called the Farmworker Appreciation Caravan, is doing more than showing support.
The group is raising money to help farmworkers and their families during this time. The farmworkers are not paid much for their jobs and the strain from a pandemic could bring financial stress under which most Americans are struggling. This bit of help from the community could change the world for some of the families.
The images are being met with an admiration for the farmworkers.
“Thank you to your hands who are making it possible for us to get food to our table,” one Twitter user said. “Thank you so much for your hard work.”