Strawberry pickers fired for leaving in wildfire

United Farm Workers helped 15 ununionized workers fight back after they were fired for walking off job during fires

Published May 8, 2013 5:22PM (EDT)

Last week, when wildfires broke out in California's Camarillo Springs, strawberry pickers working nearby found themselves struggling to breathe in ash-drenched air. Fifteen laborers stopped working and went inside for their own safety. But when they returned the next day they found that their employer, Crisalida Farms, had fired them.

"The ashes were falling on top of us," one worker told NBC LA. "[But] they told us if we leave, there would be no job to return to."

Although the laborers themselves were without a union, they sought help from the United Farm Workers, who won the workers their positions back through negotiations. According to NBC LA, however, only one laborer has so far chosen to return to Crisalida Farms following the incident.

“No worker shall work under conditions where they feel his life or health is in danger," said UFW's Lauro Barrajas, citing the union rule he had impressed upon Crisalida Farms upper management in negotiations.



By Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email

MORE FROM Natasha Lennard

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

California Unions United Farm Workers Video Wildfire Workers' Rights