HANFORD, California. (KGPE) – The Central Valley recognized lives lost to workplace hazards, as well as a renewed fight for safe working conditions during the annual Workers’ Memorial Day Wednesday.
“History has shown that often workers put their lives on the line to be the country we are today,” Ruth Lopez, the executive director of Valley Voices, said.
Event organizers in Hanford said thousands of workers across the country are killed and millions are hurt because they’re put in dangerous positions at work and COVID-19 has escalated their concerns.
“Heading into this pandemic we had some of California’s most dangerous industries and jobs here in the Central Valley,” one speaker said.
Claudia Medina said her husband Pedro Cruz Mendoza worked every day since he arrived in California in 1988. He was a field worker when COVID struck this February and continued working until March 10th. Just over a week later, he died.
Medina said his employer claims they did not know he was sick and did not keep him or others safe.
Ruth Lopez said she fears companies will under-report COVID-related information.
“Workplaces may say ‘Well, that didn’t happen here. That was something because (the employee with COVID) decided to meet up with family,’ but at the end of the day even if they get it from a family it’s going to impact everyone else who’s in that workplace and if safety precautions aren’t in place then it’s going to spread like wildfire,” Lopez said.
Other speakers said it’s time for corporations to put people over profit and make safety a priority.