FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 30, 2009
California Labor Commissioner Moves to Revoke Farm Labor Contractorsí Licenses
San Francisco, CA—California Labor Commissioner Angela Bradstreet initiated proceedings today to revoke the farm labor contractor (FLC) licenses of Joel Salazar an individual dba Joel Salazar Farm Labor, and Valley Pride, Inc. who were each issued an Order Prohibiting Use (OPU) by Cal/OSHA last month for failure to provide adequate safety measures to their outdoor workers.
The Labor Commissioner’s licensing unit seeks the license revocation because the companies failed to comply with the requirement to maintain a safe working environment for farm employees. The Commissioner also found in each case that the company made misrepresentations on its application for a renewal of its license.
“This sends yet another strong message to all farm labor contractors statewide,” said Bradstreet. “If you fail to provide the required level of protection for employees or falsify information on your application you can lose your license.”
Joel Salazar Farm Labor, based in Escondido, received an OPU as well as citations when Cal/OSHA inspectors on May 20 encountered their crew of fifteen workers planting date palm trees near Thermal in 116 degree heat with less than one gallon of water available for the entire crew. Cal/OSHA requires fresh drinking water be available for outdoor workers in sufficient quantities so that each worker can drink four 8 oz. glasses per hour. Salazar Farm Labor also failed to provide adequate training to their employees in heat illness prevention.
In addition, the Labor Commissioner found that Joel Salazar Farm Labor, made misrepresentations on its license application by failing to disclose prior citations issued by Cal/OSHA but paid in full for health and safety violations that included not having an injury illness prevention program and not complying with the field sanitation requirements.
Valley Pride, Inc., based in Coachella, received an OPU on May 19 when Cal/OSHA inspectors found a crew of two employees in 108 degree heat near Coachella covering watermelons with no shade available to them. The corporation also failed to disclose on its license application prior citations issued by Cal/OSHA but paid in full for health and safety violations that included not having an injury illness prevention program, no emergency response training and not complying with the field sanitation requirements.
In 2008, the Labor Commissioner initiated revocation proceedings against Merced Farm Labor Contractor, the Atwater-based FLC fined in July 2008 for work safety violations stemming from the heat death of a 17-year-old farm worker. The company surrendered its license to operate for three years just days before the license revocation hearing was scheduled to be held. In doing so, Merced agreed to the maximum revocation period of three years sought by the Labor Commissioner.
Under Governor Schwarzenegger's leadership, California became the first state in the nation to develop a safety and health regulation addressing heat illness in 2005.
The Division of Labor Standards Enforcement adjudicates wage claims, investigates discrimination and public works complaints, and enforces state labor law and Industrial Welfare Commission wage orders.
To learn more about the functions of the California Labor Commissioner, visit our web site at www.dir.ca.gov/dlse.
For more information on heat illness prevention and training materials visit the Cal/OSHA Web site at http://www.dir.ca.gov/heatillness. Employees that have work-related questions or complaints can call the California Workers’ Information Hotline at 1-866-924-9757.
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