Thursday, February 26, 2009

Help women win equal rights in the grapes

"I don't want women in my crew because I have had too many problems with the men being disrespectful and rude."
--Giumarra Vineyards Foreman

It’s commonplace for grape companies to discriminate against women. It happens all the time and you can help put an end to it.

Israel Herrera works at Giumarra Vineyards. After having a foreman tell him that he wouldn't hire Israel's wife, Guadalupe--who had close to 20 years experience in the grapes--he said, "I do not understand why other people's attitude should determine whether my wife works or not. She is capable of doing the job: she has done the same work with other companies."

Martha Galvan worked in several other jobs in the grape fields at Vignolo Vineyards. For years, she proved her worth. Then she applied for a job pruning grapes. A foreman and general supervisor told Martha and her fellow employees "that women did not work as fast as men. 'Women were not any good for that work. Women were lazy and he did not like women to prune or as a foreperson.'" Martha said he also would tell them, "Women are useless."

Armando Pulido saw the same thing at Kovacevich 5 Farms. He told us when he started working, "It was company policy that they did not hire women. I asked if my wife could also work there but they declined. They told me that they already had too many workers. To me it was obvious that they were discriminating against women because the company did not have a single female working there."

What would you do if this happened to you? Sue them? You're darn right. The UFW helped the workers at Kovacevich 5 Farms, based in Delano and Earlimart, to file a federal class action lawsuit. Last December, the women won a major victory when the company agreed to settle their lawsuit for $1.68 million.

This year's grape season has just begun. Discrimination is still rampant in the grape vineyards. It has to end. Please help. Your donation can help us leaflet, organize and get the word out, even file more lawsuits if necessary.

To donate go HERE.

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