CIRS Blog about Rural California

A high school senior with farmworker roots may have found a way to keep workers safe when the weather is scorching hot.

 

Faith Florez, 17, has created an app that alerts workers when temperatures reach 95 degrees. It also gives tips for keeping cool and serves as a direct link to first responders in case of emergency.

 

Currently in the crowd-funding stage, the app, called Calor, has nearly reached its $60,000 goal. It also has begun to attract social media attention.

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in Heat Risk 6 0
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The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) certified 165,000 farm jobs to be filled with H-2A workers in FY16, and is expected to certify over 200,000 jobs in FY17. The U.S. Department of State issued 134,400 visas to H-2A workers in FY16, up from 108,100 in FY15 and 55,400 in FY11.

 

The DOL does not generate estimates of the weeks of farm work done by H-2A workers or wages earned by H-2A workers. An analysis of FY12 data, when the DOL certified 85,248 jobs to be filled by H-2A workers, found that the 5,400 employers who were certified offered an average 33 weeks of employment for an average 43 hours a week to H-2A workers. If weeks of U.S. employment are multiplied by the number of workers requested by each employer, the average number of weeks drops to 26, reflecting the fact that several hundred employers offer 52-week sheepherder jobs to relatively few workers.

 

The average AEWR (Adverse Effect Wage Rate) in FY17 was $12.20 an hour or $525 for a 43-hour week. Over 26 weeks, an H-2A worker would earn $13,650 and 100,000 H-2A workers would earn $1.36 billion. If 150,000 H-2A workers are in the U.S. in FY17, their total earnings would be about $2 billion.

 

The DOL sued G Farms of El Mirage, Arizona for housing 69 Mexican H-2A workers in substandard housing and not paying them the AEWR of $10.95 an hour. Santiago Gonzalez grows watermelons and onions near Phoenix, and said he fixed housing problems as soon as the DOL notified him of them, making the DOL's suit unnecessary.

 

Gonzalez admitted that some H-2A workers did not receive the AEWR when they began to work because they were learning how to do the job; G Farms paid piece rates to harvest onions of $0.13 to $0.70 a bag.

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in Farm Labor 120 0
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Coachella, California

CIRS is a public interest research non-profit with offices in the SF Bay Area. CIRS is seeking a Community Research Outreach Specialist. We are currently seeking to hire a staff member to work on a three year project, starting January 2018. The positing starts at 80% FTE but with increased funding could become full time.

The Project

The integrated campaign we will initiate involves a collaborative effort driven by residents of communities in the Eastern Coachella Valley to address issues of environmental injustice. Our goal is to inform residents and policy makers, to implement mitigation strategies and spur investment. The policy changes we advocate for will result in a systemic change in the region and the changes in practice we encourage will impact community norms. We expect to improve community health as a result of the goals we set forth.

The project will contribute to the following:

  • Develop youth leadership through citizen science projects designed to render power through knowledge and mitigate on the ground risks. (air quality monitoring and community greening)
  • Build the power of residents to influence decisions that affect them by working with them to develop data-based tools to
  • Enhance the effectiveness and leverage partnerships by working with a diverse group of partners both within and outside the Coachella Valley.
  • Raise the visibility of community health issues impacting the residents living near the impact area of the Salton Sea by supporting their ability to lead discussions, hold space and power in meetings and tell their stories at a regional, county and state-wide level.

The Job

  • The role requires driving throughout several communities engaged as this position is field based only
  • The position entails working in various community settings
  • English-Spanish bilingual, native Spanish speaker preferred
  • Must possess strong interpersonal skills and be culturally competent with the ability to adapt to different populations
  • Must be able to work in a multi-organizational collaboration
  • Must be able to facilitate meetings where scientific data are explained to community members
  • Track and follow-up with past and present potential community partners
  • Maintain community engagement
  • Requires an individual who is a self-starter, disciplined with his/her time
  • Ability to work with little supervision
  • Candidate will ideally possess some community outreach/organizing experience

Education:

  • Bachelor's Degree required/Master’s Degree a plus
  • Emphasis in Sociology. Geography, Environmental Studies or Community Development preferred but not required

Skills:

  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • Community outreach/organizing
  • Ability to communicate clearly on multiple levels
  • Understanding of environmental justice issues
  • Excellent organizational skills
  • Must have excellent time management skills
  • Self-starter yet team oriented-outcomes
  • Knowledgeable in rural issues
  • Effective presenter
  • Effective in developing rapport and relationships in the community
  • Receptive and efficient in executing tasks designated by the Executive Director

We offer a competitive compensation and benefits package, including vacation, healthcare subsidy, sick leave and compensatory time off. Rent on home office can be negotiated. All benefits will be prorated to % FTE if not full time.

CIRS is an equal employment opportunity (EEO) to all persons regardless of age, color, national origin, citizenship status, physical or mental disability, race, religion, creed, gender, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression, genetic information, marital status, status with regard to public assistance, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state or local law.

To apply and for details on compensation contact Gail Wadsworth gwadsworth@cirsinc.org

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in Rural California 61 0
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The California State Supreme Court Nov. 27 ruled against Gerawan Farming’s attempts to dismantle the state’s process for settling employment contract disputes.

 

Gerawan, one of the largest tree fruit farmers in the nation and based in Fresno County, has been locked in a battle with the United Farm Workers for four years over a union agreement with its workers.

 

The dispute has lead to numerous lawsuits, a failed attempt to kick the union out and several findings of unfair labor practices by the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board.

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in Rural California 186 0
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County agricultural commissioners released reports of 2016 revenue in summer 2017. Kern County led the state in farm sales, with $7.2 billion worth of commodities sold, led by grapes, almonds, citrus, pistachios and milk.

Monterey County farm sales fell from $4.7 billion to $4.3 billion, largely because of lower vegetable sales of $2.8 billion in 2016. Leaf ($785 million) and head ($480 million) lettuce was the major crop in Monterey, followed by strawberries, $725 million, and broccoli, $390 million.

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in Rural California 140 0
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