More than a dozen farm workers in Southern California were picking strawberries when ashes began to fall on them and smoke from a local fire contaminated the air. The air quality at Crisalida Farms was dangerously low when 15 workers decided to leave against their foreman’s warning of termination.
Unfortunately, when the workers returned the next day, they were fired. A farm representative said that the workers had left without permission and that the company offered to pay them for the extra hours they worked.
“The smoke was very bad.” Lauro Barrajas, United Farm Workers representative, said. “That’s no doubt about that.”
Though none of the workers were union members, they reached out to Barrajas for help. Barrajas reminded the management of Crisalida Farms of a union rule, which states that no worker must feel obligated to work under conditions that put his health or life in danger.
“While it hurts to lose work, one's health is more important,” One farm worker said.
The company later offered to rehire all 15 workers, but only one returned. Others moved North, further up the coast, where more jobs are available.
The Camarillo Springs fire continues to burn with containment, scorching up to 44 square miles of land over the last six days.