Queridos Amigos/Dear Friends:
2012 was a year of great successes for CRLAF. As this year comes to a close, we celebrate our achievements in protecting rights and providing greater opportunities for farm workers, migrant workers and the rural poor, and look forward to the challenges the new year will bring. We are deeply grateful for the generosity of our benefactors, community members and partner organizations.
CRLAF is home to projects focused on agricultural workers’ health, civil rights, education, labor and employment, immigration & citizenship, pesticides and worker safety, rural housing and sustainable communities. Each project had numerous successes, highlighted below. Please visit our website, www.crlaf.org to make a tax-deductible donation. Your financial support helps make our work possible.
Here are some of our 2012 accomplishments:
The Litigation Unit obtained $2,250,000 in a class action settlement on behalf of over 3,000 Central Valley broccoli cutters. In addition, they resolved cases for clients totaling an additional $500,000, including workers subjected to sexual harassment and retaliation, dairy workers and farm workers subjected to multiple safety and wage violations.
The Pesticide and Work Safety Project provided crucial scientific support to the successful nationwide drive to end the use of methyl iodide, a cancer-causing soil fumigant which was withdrawn in April 2012. The Project also advised newly-created networks to help Fresno and Kern residents report and track responses to incidents of toxic dumping, water contamination, and pesticide exposures. Project staff also helped block the creation of loopholes in state legislation requiring employers to provide workers with necessary safety equipment and protective gear, ensuring that workers remain protected.
The Sustainable Rural Communities Project housed in CRLAF’s Fresno office made sure the 2011 environmental justice bills were fairly implemented, resulting in $8,000,000 going to rural communities for children to have safe routes to school and access to safe drinking water. Governor Brown signed four more CRLAF-sponsored bills in 2012 that address the issues these disadvantaged communities continue to face, which will help to address needed improvements to local infrastructure. In addition, the Fresno office worked with decision makers and residents to resolve unmet transit needs that could have kept voters away from the polls on Election Day, which ensured that many Californians were able to exercise their right to vote in Fresno County.
The Protecting Children of Immigrants Project’s advocacy efforts came to fruition with the passage of SB 1064 “The Reuniting Immigrant Families Act,” which aims to keep children in the care of their relatives and out of the child welfare system by providing social workers with tools to provide separated immigrant family members with appropriate care and due process. The new law will help to lessen the trauma of separation for children of immigrants.
With the President of the Woodland Unified School District Board and the Superintendent of Education for Yolo County, CRLAF’s Special Projects staff, students and other community organizations, such as the Yolo Family Resource Center, started organizing for a student-run organic garden on school grounds. Because there are no grocery stores in the area, the garden is expected to provide the community with its only local source of organic fresh fruits and vegetables. It also creates opportunities for students to get work experience and learn marketing and business skills. Students will also study the role of healthy food in preventing diabetes and other chronic diseases, as well as get more outdoor exercise and build teamwork.
Special Projects staff and others also successfully advocated to help re-open a health clinic in a rural farm worker town which lost its only clinic in 2008. The clinic provides vital medical care to over 1,000 residents and is staffed and supported by medical students, doctors and nurses, community and undergraduate volunteers, and local nonprofits such as the Yolo Family Resource Center and other health advocates. Special Projects staff also oversaw the creation of two newly-formed youth advocacy groups for farm workers in Yolo County and continues to help coordinate a K-12 tutoring program for children of farm workers in two rural Yolo County communities.
Our newest Immigration and Citizenship Project initiative, the Project for Relief, Empowerment and Development, was launched in July 2012 to provide comprehensive advocacy and legal representation for undocumented non-citizens and victims of crime. The initiative could not have come at a better time. When the Obama Administration announced the creation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in the summer of 2012, allowing certain eligible youth to apply for a temporary status permit, CRLAF attorneys quickly mobilized and gave DACA presentations to over 2,500 youth, young adults and parents. In September, CRLA Foundation joined efforts with University of California, Davis Immigration Law Clinic and the Mexican Consulate to host a free workshop for DACA applicants.
The Governor also signed 3 labor bills sponsored by the Foundation’s Labor and Employment Law Project. The bills improved private enforcement of itemized wage stub protections; resolved long-standing controversies relating to employees’ rights to receive a copy of their personnel records; and authorized the state labor commissioner to assess stiff civil penalties against persons acting as a farm labor contractor without a license.
Looking back, there is much to celebrate, and these accomplishments would not have been possible without your generous support. Looking ahead we see there is still much more to be done, and we look forward to continuing our work with your support in 2013 and beyond.
We wish you a joyful holiday season and all the best for the New Year!
Amagda Perez, Esq.