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Local Organizers distribute safety equipment on the fourth anniversary of the Tubbs Fire
photo credit: Tessa Paoli

On Sunday afternoon, on the fourth anniversary of the Tubbs Fire, North Bay Jobs with Justice took over a portion of the Healdsburg Plaza, in the heart of the touristy downtown, to give farmworkers free safety equipment for protection against COVID and wildfire smoke.

Santa Rosa resident Gregorio Martinez has worked as an agricultural worker for two decades. Martinez said sometimes employers provide this equipment but other times workers have to buy it themselves.

"Thank you to the organizers that support workers," Martinez said. "Because sometimes workers don't have rights and employers simply do the bare minimum."

Dozens of volunteers  also went door to door to educate local businesses about the "Five for Farmworkers in Fire" campaign, five demands to keep workers safe during wildfire season. By the end of the afternoon, eighteen businesses around the plaza publicly supported the campaign by placing flyers in their window.

 

Farm workers and advocates gather to raise awareness about demands for farm worker safety
photo credit: Tessa Paoli

Volunteer Yolanda Valdivia comes from a long line of farmers and was excited to hear such support from local businesses. 

"A lot were impacted," Valdivia said. "They said it wasn't fair that they had to ask for something so simple."

Valdivia said when the volunteers explained the demands for farm worker safety to local businesses, many were unaware of the poor conditions and shocked that workers had to ask for these protections.

North Bay Jobs with Justice director Max Bell Alper said the event's location was strategic for hyper visibility of farm workers, especially as many continue to work through red flag warnings.

"It's really important that when people come to the Healdsburg Plaza as tourists and to enjoy themselves, that they remember, at the end of the day, to produce wine and to produce the economy of Sonoma County it takes real hard work by agricultural workers," Bell Alper said. "And they need to be respected always, and even more so during wildfire season."

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