"These Farmworkers Created America’s Strongest Workplace Heat Rules"

"IMMOKALEE, Fla. -- The sweet, earthy scent of tomatoes hangs in the air as a crew of 44 workers speeds through rows of vines. They fill 32-pound buckets with fruit, then deliver them to co-workers waiting on the backs of flatbed trucks who dump the contents into crates to be sorted and packaged.

During an eight-hour shift, each worker hauls an average of about three tons of tomatoes. They work at this pace all winter in this small farming community in southwest Florida — and all summer on a farm in Tennessee, where temperatures can reach the 90s.

But unlike at many other farms, every worker takes a 10-minute break every two hours during the hottest part of the year. When they feel the effects of heat illness coming on, they have the right to cool down in the shade. Sunripe Certified Brands, the company that owns the farm, must provide clean water, shaded rest areas and nearby bathrooms for all of its workers.

These are the strongest set of workplace heat protections in the United States. They were not put in place by local, state or federal regulators, but by the workers who spent years organizing to push companies to adopt them."

Nicolás Rivero and Eva Marie Uzcategui report for the Washington Post February 17, 2024.

Source: Washington Post, 02/19/2024