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Jocelyn Sherman's picture

Only a short time left to fight this travesty

Time is running out and we need you to take action. March 9th is the hearing for the sentencing of the two people responsible for the heat death of 17-year old Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez. Maria died of heat stroke in 2008 while laboring in the scorching grape vineyards near Stockton. Her body temperature reached 108.

Maria's death is so hard to accept, because it didn’t need to happen. The labor contractors did not even observe the most basic heat laws. This was not a onetime occurrence for this employer. In 2006, Merced Farm Labor was fined for failure to have a written heat stress prevention plan and heat stress training for workers, as required by law. But they did not care. They never even paid the fine.

News reports state the district attorney is going with a plea deal that would let the accused go without even jail time, possibly with just community service. Can you believe it?

3 years probation and 40 hours community service for the owner of the labor contractor company and 400 hours of community service and a $1000 file for the company's "Safety Coordinator," instead of the original involuntary manslaughter charge?

Maria's family has come to us (at United Farm Workers) asking for our help. Won't you please help them?

Doroteo Jimenez, the uncle of Maria Isabel told us (UFW), "When I heard that they might get community service hours, I wanted to cry. After everything, this is what they get? They might as well have let them go from the beginning. Both of them are responsible for Maria's death and both should do time in jail."

The family and the UFW have met with the DA to no avail. The DA has told the family he is proud of setting precedent in California by convicting a labor contractor of a felony .

Is that an even exchange for the life of a young girl? What does it matter if the system calls it a "felony," if justice is not served?

I'm sure you will join us in saying, "No. That is not enough!" There were laws in place to protect farm workers from heat stroke and the labor contractor and her safety supervisor had the responsibility to ensure they were followed. It's simple. They didn't. Not even the most basic heat laws were followed.

Please click HERE to send an e-mail immediately and tell the District Attorney, James Willett, not to set a precedent that farm workers' lives are unimportant. There must be serious consequences. Tell him that jail time is a must and nothing short of that will satisfy the family or the public. Thank you!

PS: Click to see a VIDEO of UFW Vice President Merlyn Calderon speaking at press conference for Maria Isabel on the Stockton courthouse steps where the UFW joined Maria's family in announcing a farm worker vigil at the courthouse on March 7 and 8th.

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