WJCNY and Partners Launch Statewide Dairy Farmworkers Speakers Tour

For Immediate Release:

Kickoff of Statewide Justice for Dairy Farmworkers Speakers Tour

April 25, 2014 — Today marks the start of an 11-day-long speaking tour, which will stop at churches, universities, and community centers throughout New York State to draw attention to the plight of immigrant dairy farmworkers and to build support for the Justice for Dairy Farmworkers campaign. The tour coincides with Workers’ Memorial Day (April 28th), May Day (May 1st) and Farmworker Advocacy Day (May 5th).

The featured speaker on the tour is Jose Cañas, an immigrant farmworker from El Salvador who has worked on upstate dairy farms for over three years. He will be taking 11 days off of work, unpaid, to be part of the speaking tour. He will be joined by other immigrant dairy farmworkers and Rebecca Fuentes, the daughter of a farmworker from Mexico and the lead organizer of the Syracuse-based Workers’ Center of Central New York, and Carly Fox, organizer with the Worker Justice Center of New York.

The dairy industry is New York’s leading agricultural sector and New York is a leading dairy producer in the nation. In fact, in 2012, New York became the country’s number one producer of yogurt. This boom in dairy production, however, has come at a significant cost to the workers whose labor has made it all possible. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there have been 55 fatalities on dairy farms in New York State since 2006.

As Jose Cañas explains, ”The goals [of the tour] are to denounce the social injustice that is happening to us. The oppression we feel at work is something that exists towards Latinos on all farms. The key to success is to make ourselves more powerful, the labor force, us Latinos…” Cañas has directly witnessed or suffered accidents and injuries due to employer negligence, nightly fevers due to indecent housing and depression from social isolation.
“Our goal, like Jose expresses it, is to denounce the injustices that workers are going through, but also to organize to improve the conditions,” Fuentes said. “We have already accomplished a lot, by organizing delegations of workers to meet with OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Administration) to speak up about unsafe and unhealthy workplace conditions.” These efforts were the catalyst for OSHA’s implementation of a local emphasis program that will, for the first time, include unannounced inspections on dairy farms throughout the state.

For more information about this tour or to set up an interview with one of the speakers, please contact:

Rebecca Fuentes
Workers’ Center of Central New York
Tel: (315) 657-6799
Email: rfuentes@workerscentercny.org

Carly Fox
Worker Justice Center of New York
Tel: (585) 500-9409
Email: carly.fox.wjcny@gmail.com

Event Flyer and Location Listings:
“From Exclusion to Power: NY Dairy Farmworkers Organizing for Justice”

José Cañas, farmworker and organizer with the Justice for Dairy Farmworkers Campaign
Carly Fox, organizer with the Worker Justice Center of New York
Rebecca Fuentes, organizer with Workers’ Center of Central NY

Come learn from these dynamic speakers about the efforts to organize and improve the working conditions faced by immigrant farmworkers, whose labor has helped New York become the leading yogurt producing region in the nation.

4/24 @ 4pm | Syracuse University, Syracuse
4/25 @ 8am | Unity Breakfast, 135 State Fair Blvd., Syr
4/25 @ 6pm | North Country
4/26 @ 3pm | SUNY Geneseo Diaspora conference
4/26 @ 4pm | Albany Worker Memorial Day
4/27 @ 11am |Plymouth Church, Syracuse
4/27 @ 7pm | Ithaca radio show
4/28 @ 4:30 | Cornell Law School
4/28 @ 5pm| Rochester Worker Memorial Day
4/28 @ 6:30 | Worker Memorial Day, Ithaca
4/29 @ 11:30am| Press Conference Buffalo
4/29 @ 6pm |United Way, 742 Delaware Ave, Buffalo
4/30 @ 4pm | Hobart and William Smith, Geneva, NY
4/30 @ 7pm | DUPC, Rochester
5/1 @ 11am | Binghamton University
5/1 @ 5pm | Syracuse May Day
5/2 @ 11am | Worker meeting with Kim Bobo, Syracuse
5/2 @ 6pm | Rural and Migrant Ministry, Sodus
5/4 @ 12pm | UU Church Central Square
5/4 @ 5pm | Utica, NY
5/5 @ 11am | Farmworker Advocacy Day, Albany
5/6 @ 6:30pm | Baruch College, NYC
5/7 @ 2pm | Gallatin School @ New York University