ABC 30: California Sen. Alex Padilla pushes for outdoor workers rights after recent heat-related deaths
By Kassandra Gutierrez
U.S. Senator Alex Padilla visited the Valley today, to push for federal legislation to help protect outdoor workers from the heat.
It comes after the hottest month on record in July, which put 170 million Americans under extreme heat alerts.
“Every day that we fail to act is another day that someone is risking their life in their effort to provide for their family,” says Senator Padilla.
He is calling on Congress to help protect all U.S. workers from the heat.
During a trip to “The Forty Acres” in Delano, the Democrat announced a bill called the Asunción Valdivia Heat, Illness, Injury and Fatality Prevention Act.
The legislation is named after a California farmworker who died in 2004 after picking grapes for ten hours straight in 105-degree temperatures.
It would require OSHA to set a federal heat standard for all workers to have water, shade and paid breaks in cool places during hot days.
“This is not just an issue of worker’s rights, it cuts to the moral heart of our nation and yes we need to do more,” mentions Senator Padilla.
The bill aims to protect all workers, including those in construction, the food industry, and farm workers.
The push is personal to Senator Padilla- as his father was a cook and faced hot grills on hot days for forty years.
“Ask a construction worker who bakes in the sun to build a home with air conditioning before the next heat wave. And yes ask a farmworker. In Delano, or anywhere across the center valley who works tirelessly in the hot sun to put food on our tables,” explains Padilla.
Senator Padilla was joined by Teresa Romero, the president of the United Farm Workers Foundation.
In an emotional speech, she remembered those who have lost their lives on the job due to heat-related illnesses.
Including 59-year-old Elidio Hernandez, who reportedly died of heat stress while working near Fresno just 10 days ago.
Teresa says, “He told his supervisor he wasn’t feeling well, his supervisor said to keep working when he collapsed nobody called 911. He died in the fields.”
Senator Padilla acknowledged California already has strict laws in place- but says he would like to see the same nationwide.
As Senator Padilla continues to ask for the support of his colleagues he does wanna remind people who are working in extreme heat conditions that you do have rights
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