From farm workers harvesting broccoli in the Coachella Valley to warehouse workers laboring without air conditioning, California’s workers share the common threat of extreme heat. With increasing frequency, workers are facing heat-related injuries.
Just one-year ago, when COVID-19 was raging, there was an enormous appreciation of essential work. With the pandemic abating, the spotlight has shifted away from essential workers.
Climate Resolve is placing the spotlight back on essential workers and how climate change is affecting their lives.
In April, we’re releasing a breakthrough report, titled Exhausted! Workers Confront Extreme Heat and Wildfire Smoke in California, which mainly focuses on climate-related struggles of farmworkers and warehouse workers.
We interviewed essential groups like the Warehouse Workers Resource Center and California Rural Legal Assistance, and workers themselves, who told story after story about employers who failed to help employees adapt to severe weather. In sum, many employers have failed to comply with the law by failing to provide adequate shade or cooling.
We also reviewed dozens of journal articles that detail the economic, physical, and psychological impacts of working in extremely hot conditions. An added burden, farmworkers also endure inhaling contaminants and smoke from wildfires, while warehouse workers breathe-in diesel exhaust from trucks.
We reviewed California and federal laws and regulations, and found significant gaps.
Funded in part by Resilient Cities Catalyst and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Climate Resolve suggests 18 recommendations, concrete ways to improve the working conditions of California’s most overheated and undervalued workers. Thankfully, the State’s new climate resilience plan affirms a few of the key problems we identify in the report.