June 9, 2000
It has been a long, hot day working in the rich strawberry fields of Carlsbad for Luis de la Cruz. (Not his real name) Each day he goes home wondering why he has such a terrible rash on his arms from working.
"Year after year, when we pick the strawberries, I get a big rash on my arms and it itches very much," Mr. De la Cruz says. When he complains to his company, all they do is give him a cream and tell him he has a strawberry allergy.
California leads the nation in pesticide use, pesticide-related poisoning of workers, and contamination of water, air and wildlife. The intensity of agricultural pesticide used in California increased 35% from 1991 to 1995. Agricultural workers need to know this information to make an educated decision about their employment. Until recently, they had few resources for such vital information.
This is just one area where California Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA) has made a difference. The nonprofit organization formed an advocacy group and received a $667,000 grant to educate workers about pesticides and their rights.
The San Francisco-based legal service organization, which has 16 branch offices throughout the state, including San Diego and Imperial Valley, is a recognized leader in advocating for the rights of farm workers. Although there are many social programs available for immigrants, bureaucracy often takes over and with language barriers, resources are not always put to best use. CRLA helps level the playing field by empowering farm workers with culturally and linguistically appropriate educational materials and resources.
Calderon Jaham & Osborn Certified Public Accountants and Consultants will host an outreach and fund raising event in San Diego on June 24, 2000 to bring attention to CRLA and to help provide financial assistance to those in need. For information on this event, contact 858-488-2867 or the CRLA Development at 415-752-0579. Or, Anna Garza with CRLA at 415-777-2752.
For more information about CRLA, visit www.crla.org. The San Diego office phone number is (760) 996-0511 (Claudia Smith, Directing Attorney).