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Woodburn – PCUN, Oregon’s Farmworker Union represents farmworkers, and low-wage Latinx working families in Oregon. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, PCUN, Oregon Law Center, and allies have requested temporary rules during the pandemic to ensure protocols, and increased worker protection measures to prevent a COVID-19 outbreak in the agricultural workforce. According to an Oregon State University Enumeration Study, there are 178,758 agricultural workers, and family members (which includes workers in agriculture, processing, and forestry work). An outbreak amongst these workers would have devastating effects on Oregon’s food supply chain, and communities.
On April 28th, 2020 – Oregon OSHA announced Temporary rules addressing the COVID-19 emergency in employer-provided housing and in labor-intensive agricultural operations
Effective Date Unless otherwise noted, the provisions of this rule take effect May 11, 2020 and will remain effect until repealed, but not later than October 28, 2020. The Temporary Rules require employers to implement field sanitation protocols such as social distancing measures, more hand-washing stations, and toilet availability; requires additional protocols and sanitation for employer provided transportation, including distancing measures in vans, and buses; additional disinfection measures after use. And requirements for employer provided housing; including the prohibition of the use of bunkbeds, additional toilets, and handwashing-stations, employer provided cleaning materials, and mandatory distancing measures in sleeping quarters.
“This is the first step towards keeping farmworkers safe, while continuing to go to work. Oregon OSHA is doing right by workers, by ensuring there are clear standards and rules in place protecting them from a potential health disaster at their work-site. Doing nothing puts them and our essential food supply chain at risk.” Said Reyna Lopez, Executive Director of PCUN, “Clear communications, and rules for farmworkers to function in a time of a pandemic are necessary to keeping people safe. We look forward to supporting and collaborating in efforts between employers, workers, and communities to ensure resources are in place for additional equipment, sanitation, handwashing stations, toilets, and housing alternatives. This must also be part of implementing a comprehensive plan for our agricultural sector.”
PCUN, has organized for the rights of farmworkers since the mid-1980’s. Its fundamental goal is ending the exploitation of farmworkers.