FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Farmworker Organizing Results in Chlorpyrifos Rules Changes

Press Statement

Woodburn, OR – For the last several years, PCUN, and Beyond Toxics have been pushing for ending the use of a toxic pesticide known as Chlorpyrifos. On December 16, 2020, the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA)  released a final rule on the use of Chlorpyrifos, the culmination of a year-long rulemaking process.  

PCUN’s political director was an official member of the rules advisory committee, initially formed in November 2019, along with partners, and Beyond Toxics. Both PCUN and Beyond Toxics advocated strongly for a public health lens on any rules related to Chlorpyrifos from the ODA. 

“We submitted proposals to the agency on measures that would protect our communities from Chlorpyrifos exposure, with a final ask to fully phase out Chlorpyrifos by Dec 31, 2023” said Martha Sonato, Political Director at PCUN, “Our coalition mobilized hundreds of comments and worked closely with our farmworkers to work through technological issues so they could make their voices heard. We heard loud and clear from our farmworkers the need for a full phase out, who’ve had direct and long term exposure to Chlorpyrifos.”

The rule has several components that involve a partial phase out. Aerial spraying of Christmas trees will continue until the partial phase out by Dec 31st, 2023 (any spraying of Christmas trees will only be permitted from April 1-June 15 until partial phase out). Buffer zones are lower than advocates had requested – from spraying near sensitive sites such as farmworker housing (they’re at 300, 150, 60 ft) . In 2016, EPA concluded that spray uses “require buffer distances of > 300 feet to [result in exposure] below the level of concern.”

It is in fact a partial phase out – since the use of Chlorpyrifos will not be fully phased out by Dec 31, 2023. Chlorpyrifos will be allowed for use in granular form and for commercial pre-plant seed treatment.

The Department acknowledges that granular and seed-treatment uses are likely to increase under the proposed rule, but it does not provide any assessment of how such increases will affect human health or the environment. All Chlorpyrifos products will be classified as a restricted use product starting on January 1, 2021. Definition of sensitive sites, from the edge of the application site to sensitive site, includes farmworker housing. Label definition of sensitive sites is inclusive of places where our farmworkers /children and community, live, work, and play.

In addition, there will be a Restricted Entry Interval of a minimum of 4 days. This standardizes REI for all crops. This REI of 4 days provides slightly better protection for farmworkers and farmers when they return to a site that has been sprayed than what is currently in place. Certification, Licensing & Training will also be required, currently, a farmworker could apply Chlorpyrifos without certification/licensure, as long as they are supervised by a licensed applicator. The new rule states that only certified and licensed public, private or pesticide applicators can apply Chlorpyrifos products. Lastly, the final rule requires record-keeping requirements and training in English and Spanish for mixers and loaders to be completed annually.

PCUN’s Executive Director, Reyna Lopez states, “While we’re disappointed that the agency is doing a partial phase out, and not a full phase out, we’re still proud of the hundreds of comments submitted to ODA leading up to this point. We wouldn’t have gotten this far without the countless voices of farmworkers, and community members asking ODA to take action. We see this as a step forward for farmworkers and children’s health and safety across the state.”

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Secretary of State Bev Clarno, Please Ensure That Our Votes Are Counted This Year!

Dear Secretary of State Bev Clarno,

PCUN has a history of working to educate and motivate citizens who often miss out on voting. For farmworkers and the immigrant community members that we represent, voting is the fundamental cornerstone of a free and democratic society.  As the Secretary of State, you have a unique duty of care towards the integrity of our democracy, and we write to you as the official who is responsible for counting the votes in our state.  

One of the largest obstacles in increasing voting participation has been a growing fear that our people’s votes will not count, or that the process of voting will face interference or intimidation from third party actors. We are deeply committed to an electoral process in which every single voter is confident that they will be able to participate and that their vote will be counted. Given the political and social environment that we are experiencing and the pandemic that our state is navigating, we want to ask important things of you to make sure we provide voters with the best information possible:

  1. How can voters track the status of their ballots (including absentee ballots)?
  2. When will votes be tallied?
  3. If intimidation or obstruction of voters occurs at ballot drop-off locations, how will your office notify the press, voters, and law enforcement to protect voters?
  4. If there are widespread problems with USPS delivering ballots, will you expand the time that ballots can be received in order to not disenfranchise voters?

We appreciate the importance of your job and the historical weight on your shoulders this year.  We look forward to working with you in securing voters’ trust that their ballots will count this election year! 

Best Regards,

Reyna Lopez, Executive Director

PCUN Farmworkers & Latinx Working Families United 

CIPRIANO FERREL DAY – Sept 13th – 25 years an ancestor

Founder and first president of Pineros Y Campesinos Unidos Del Noroeste

PCUNista’s. In the midst of devastation, grief, and loss during COVID-19 and extreme wildfires – we’d like to pause to take a moment to honor one of ancestors, Cipriano Ferrel.

Today, PCUN is fighting harder than ever to ensure agricultural workers – and working class people- are treated with dignity and respect. 34 years ago, Cipriano and 80 farmworkers realized a dream to start a union of their own. Despite not having collective bargaining rights… defying odds, and with a “si se puede” attitude, these workers (many with little to no formal education, and with little money) started what today is PCUN, Farmworkers and Latinx Families United. 

Today on September 13th, 2020 it has been 25 years since Cipriano’s death shocked all who knew him.  He died of a heart attack at his apartment in Salem, about three weeks short of his 47th birthday. He became an ancestor 25 years ago – some say they can feel his spirit at PCUN still today. We believe it’s true, because frankly – the energy of “si se puede”, fighting for workers, and for a better tomorrow is present in every corner of our building.

Today, PCUN continues the struggle to improve the collective lives of agricultural workers, and low-wage workers across the state. By advocating for pro-immigrant and pro-farmworker policies; building strong multicultural coalitions; and advancing an unapologetically political electoral program that turns out Latinx voters – we’ve built one of Oregon’s longest standing Latinx organizations. 

Today, his legacy continues in the womxn, men, and gender non-conforming leaders in the Alianza Poder movement. 

We simply wouldn’t be who we are without Cipriano. Rest in Power Cip. 

Check out Cipriano’s Poem, and his updated biography in the links below.

PCUN Urges Agencies and Employers to Protect Workers During Wildfires

PCUN leadership wrote a letter to agency directors, Commissioners, and the Governor – asking for their support in protecting workers. Outdoor Agricultural Workers were called in to work during Level 2 Evacuations while air quality became more and more hazardous. We need to ensure Outdoor Agricultural Workers have N95 Respirators if they are going to need to work through the conditions; need a site manager to inform them as conditions change (in Spanish, and Indigenous Languages); and need to be able to stay home during Level 2 Evacuations so they can be ready in case they move into Level 3 in order to prioritize their families safety. Here was OSHA’s response.

Link here : https://osha.oregon.gov/news/2020/Pages/nr2020-34.aspx

This response is important. We must understand what the protocol is when these natural disasters occur. Unfortunately, due to climate change, this isn’t the last Oregon will see of red skies and hazardous air. We need to come together as industry stakeholders to ensure people have the support they need in these difficult times. And talk about long term solutions to combating climate change, and protecting workers.

Workers will show up – because we don’t want to lose our jobs, and because we’re proud of the service we provide our state, and our country which is to put food on America’s table. But please, do not take advantage of our dedication, we need Oregonians to consider us too – especially as conditions get worse.