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Battling the Heat: Urgent Call for Legislative Action to Protect Workers

We are currently in the middle of a massive heat wave. Temperatures have been topping 100 degrees, and farmworkers continue to work outside tending our fruits and vegetables. Workers across New Jersey are still not guaranteed water, shade, or breaks.

Over the last several months, New Jersey lawmakers have been considering S2422/A3521, a proposal to create state standards for heat protection for outdoor workers.

The bill would require employers to establish a heat-related illness and injury prevention plan. Access to cold water, paid rest and shade would be required. Non-urgent tasks would have to be postponed during heat waves.

The bill would also give the NJ Department of Labor the ability to issue stop-work orders for job sites determined to not be taking adequate safety measures during heat waves.

One of CATA's farmworker organizers, Edgar Aquino Huerta, gave testimony before the Senate Labor Committee and also penned an Op-Ed published by NJ Spotlight news last week and shared his own experience working in agriculture since he was 13 years old:

"Cold water was a luxury. Often, we had to bring our own because the water supply, if available, was kept distant on a truck across the farm. There were many times when we didn't have cups, and whoever had a bottle of Gatorade would cut the plastic in half so that we could take turns drinking water. For the farms that did not have any shade, I would hop on the work van to take my break, but it was even hotter there.

The New Jersey Legislature has an opportunity to save lives this summer by passing S2422/A3521, legislation that represents a crucial enhancement to farmworker health and safety. This law would provide the clean, cool water we need in the fields, shade, rest and would hold farm owners — a $1 billion dollar industry in New Jersey — accountable if they don't give us these protections."

Will you tell your legislators that these protections are needed for New Jersey's workers? Use this link

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