On Oct. 10, people from North Bay Jobs with Justice gathered at the Healdsburg Plaza to hold a Puesto Popular/Farmstand for Justice to raise awareness about their “5 for farmworkers in fires” campaign which calls for better working conditions and language justice for Sonoma County farmworkers.

The campaign addresses five significant needs for local farmworkers by calling for language justice, disaster insurance, community safety observers, premium hazard pay and clean bathrooms and water.

The organization is asking for language justice because while many farmworkers are migrants from Mexico and Central America, not all speak Spanish as their first language — some speak one of many oral indigenous languages including Mixteco, Maya, Chatino and Triqui, among others.

The second demand for farmworkers is disaster insurance.

According to North Bay Jobs with Justice, “When fires and smoke are too intense, the wine industry receives insurance payments with significant assistance from the federal government to cover losses, but most farmworkers do not receive any assistance for their lost income.”

According to a North Bay Jobs with Justice flyer, in 2019, total payments to wineries in Sonoma County for fire damage was $63 million, whereas the total payments to Sonoma County farmworkers for lost income was $0.

The third request for farmworkers is community safety observers who could regularly inspect and enforce health and safety protocols, including wildfire smoke standards.

Currently 10 Cal/OSHA inspectors cover five county districts, including Sonoma County, according to the group.

Premium hazard pay and clean bathrooms and water round out the list of five demands.

During the Sunday afternoon event, the North Bay Jobs with Justice team set up a booth and distributed bandanas, N95 masks, work gloves, hand sanitizer and sharpening stones to farmworkers. 

Teams of volunteers were tasked with handing out “5 for farmworkers in fires” flyers and visited wine tasting rooms and eateries around the Plaza, asking them if they would be willing to tape a flyer in their window.

The flyer states “We support the 5 for farmworkers in fires,” and encourages people to use a QR code to sign a community petition that calls for adopting the five demands for farmworkers.

One of the various teams of volunteers broke away from the main group to walk down Center Street and talk to businesses about the petition.

A worker from the newly opened Marine Layer Wines readily agreed to tape the colorful flyer to their window and the paper was also taped up in the RoadHouse Winery tasting room window. 

As of Oct. 11, 1,763 signatures have been collected for the petition. The organization’s goal is to reach 2,000 signatures.

To learn more about the campaign, visit the North Bay Jobs with Justice website.

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Staff Writer

Katherine Minkiewicz-Martine has been a staff writer with The Healdsburg Tribune and SoCoNews for over two years. She graduated from San Francisco State University with a degree in journalism.

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