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UFW Urges Trader Joe's to Fight for Laborers' Righs

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A few weeks ago, a 17-year-old agricultural laborer named Maria died of heatstroke after working for 8 hours non-stop in 100 degree heat in a Stockton-area vineyard. According to the United Farm Workers, worker charges filed with Cal OSHA claim that "the land owner where Maria suffered heat stroke continues to utilize labor contractors that don't abide by the law," such as not offering the workers shade or have water within easy access. In fact, just last week "another charge was filed for lack of water and shade at one of the company's locations."

The UFW has linked the vineyard where Maria had been employed to South Pasadena-based Trader Joe's, because what Maria probably didn't know is that she died working for the Bronco Winery, who just happen to be the folks behind the infamous "Two Buck Chuck" label. The union is now asking the public to help draw Trader Joe's attention to the conditions under which their very successful wines are produced by encouraging the grocery chain to "implement a corporate policy to ensure that their suppliers are not violating the law by failing to provide farm workers with basic protections such as cold water, shade and clean bathrooms." Their website, where you can follow the link to "Take Action!" also explains:

Requests of this type are not new to Trader Joe's. Back in 2005 after the Humane Society and customers expressed concerns, Trader Joe's agreed to sell only cage free eggs under the company's label. We commend Trader Joe's for this corporate responsibility and ask them to do the same for farm workers. After all isn't the life of a farm worker as important as the life of a chicken? Trader Joe's web site says "we listen to what our customers tell us about the choices we give them." Please ask Trader Joe's to listen and take action today. As the exclusive distributor of Charles Shaw wines, they need to take corporate responsibility before more farm workers, like Maria die due to grower neglect.

If you want to add your name to the list of people hoping to get the attention of Trader Joe's you can send a pre-formatted email
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via the UFW's website.Photo by Kables via Flickr