This report was originally published on South Kern Sol.
Essential workers are a necessity in keeping the economy afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic. Because essential workers risk their lives every day, it’s clear why essential workers like first responders and medical personnel have received preferential treatment with special discounts and early access into places like grocery stores.
However, it’s not very often a small business offers a farmworker, who is also considered essential, a special discount, and it’s not very often grocery store employees call for farmworkers to jump to the front of a long entrance line to enter a store.
“I know that during these times, my parents’ work only became harder for them,” said David, a junior high student from McFarland, Calif. and son of farmworkers. “With the coronavirus spreading, I know they could possibly be putting their lives in danger. Working outside during a worldwide lockdown because of COVID-19 can be a bit scary … That’s why I respect them for what they do.”
Most of the time, essential workers need a badge as proof to receive the preferential treatment, but badges aren’t part of the farmworker uniform. It seems farmworkers are the forgotten essential workers, the workers that risk their lives to feed the community.
But how are these essential workers forgotten? There are nearly 450,000 farmworkers in the state of California, which makes up about half of the farmworkers in the country, according to Armando Elenes, the secretary treasurer for the UFW.
Children of farmworkers worry about their parents’ safety at work. Farmworkers can hardly practice social distancing at work, and many do not have the proper personal protective equipment to stay healthy. This leaves kids worrying about their parents’ return.
“I think my parents feel terrified because they might end up getting sick or having a terrible disease, and they’re just not ready for that,” said McFarland Junior High student Selena, whose father is a farmworker.
(Read the rest of this report at South Kern Sol.)