5 November 2004

These are extremely vulnerable workers

A glimpse at the plight of California Dairy Workers.
Lorenzo Bravo Salgado, 35, can barely walk. He used to work at Soares Dairy in Turlock, California, until a cow he was milking kicked him in the chest. Bravo fell backwards and broke a disc in his back.

"I started to black out. I started urinating blood," says Bravo. "I told the patrón [dairy owner] what happened, but he told me if I didn’t want to work, there were plenty of others who would."

Bravo says he regularly worked from 11 p.m. to 11 a.m., and then would turn around and work from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. "It was a choice of eating or sleeping," he says. "If I slept I didn’t eat, if I ate, I didn’t sleep."

His co-worker Juan Carrillo, 37, reports that he was paid no overtime and was given only one day off a week. If he was sick, he had to pay for it. "[Soares] made me sign a contract saying I would pay a fine of $50 a day if I didn’t come to work."

This is why everyone should be in opposition to any proposed guest worker program.


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