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Farmworker union opposes Schwarzenegger appointee

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Omaha Steve Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-01-09 08:52 PM
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Farmworker union opposes Schwarzenegger appointee

By JULIET WILLIAMS Associated Press Writer
Posted: 02/27/2009 02:26:58 PM PST

SACRAMENTOGov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Friday named a former GOP lawmaker to a board overseeing relations between farmers and field laborers, a move that drew immediate criticism from labor advocates because of her opposition to landmark farmworker health protections.

The United Farm Workers called on the state Senate to reject the nomination of former Assemblywoman Sharon Runner to the Agricultural Labor Relations Board, a position that pays $128,109 a year. Runner, who lives in Lancaster, was termed out last year after serving six years in the Legislature.

"While Governor Schwarzenegger promises to vigorously enforce his regulation protecting farmworkers from death or illness because of extreme temperatures a year after six of them perished from the heat, he has appointed an ex-lawmaker to the state farm labor board who opposed protections such as water, shade and work breaks when field workers are stricken," UFW legislative director Giev Kashkooli said in a statement.

Runner, who is married to state Sen. George Runner, opposed a 2005 bill by then-Assemblywoman Judy Chu, D-Monterey Park, that would have given farmworkers additional protections.

Schwarzenegger had made it clear he sought to have such regulations adopted administratively, and the bill died. The governor's administration later adopted rules that require farmers and contractors to provide workers with water and breaks, have shade available and have emergency plans in place in case of excessive high temperatures.

Before the regulations took effect, there were no specific employer rules regarding heat illness, although they were required to have an injury and illness prevention program. A string of 10 heat-related deathsfour of them farmworkersduring a two-month period in 2005 prompted the review.

Schwarzenegger spokeswoman Rachel Cameron said the governor remains committed to the rules, which are enforced by the state Division of Occupational Safety and Health, not the agriculture board.

FULL story at link.

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