"Charity is commendable, everyone should be charitable. But Justice aims to create a social order in which, if individuals choose not to be charitable, people still don't go hungry, unschooled or sick without care. Charity depends on the vicissitudes of whim and personal wealth, justice depends on commitment instead of circumstance.
Faith-based charity provides crumbs from the table; faith-based justice offers a place at the table"
~Bill Moyers

Monday, June 23, 2008

Punishment after Injury? RE: María Isabel Vázquez Jiménez family.

Short as her life was, so were the news that his uncle was fired from the contractor who replaced Merced Farm Labor, the contractors who are directly responsible for her death and that I hope anyone amongst them found responsible for the inhumane conditions which prompted María Isabel Vázquez Jiménez death, gets charged at least with criminal negligence.

"Uncle of girl who died from heatstroke is fired" reads the headline of Jenny Rodríguez article, the report is also brief, Jenny tells us that it "was the same day his sister, María's mother, filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the vineyard company and the contractor in charge when María Jiménez became ill" and also tells us that "Juan Chávez, the new contractor, fired Jiménez for missing a safety meeting that took place Wednesday", the same day that he accompanied lawyers to file the lawsuit and also spoke at a news conference.

According to el Sr. Doroteo Jiménez, Juan Chávez, the owner of "California Gold", the new farm labor contractor that replaced "Merced Farm Labor", he had asked for and had been given permission to take the day off. He was never informed there would be a mandatory safety training that day.
He returned to work afterwards and was fired at the end of the shift.

Ms. Rodríguez ends her report with this:
Dean Fryer, a spokesman for the state Labor Commission, said the firing could be illegal if proven to be retaliation. California labor code states an employee has a right to disclose and file a complaint about working conditions to labor officials.

Fryer said if that can be proved, regardless of the worker's U.S. residency status, state officials may take action.

"We would have to conduct our own investigation," Fryer said. "The employee has to come forward to us and tell us he wants (an) investigation."

Now, why does the SLC's spokesman mentions 'retaliation' as the possible cause? How does Mr. Jiménez prove it was retaliation? The standard of proof has to be a bit high in these cases, isn't?

UFW Condemns Firing of Doroteo Jiménez

"The United Farm Workers is condemning the action by farm labor contractor California Gold, its owner Juan Chávez and West Coast Grape Farming Inc. in the firing Thursday evening of Doroteo Jiménez."

Bravo UFW, I'm sure the Labor Contractors must be shrinking in fear and it will teach then not to do it again. WOW!

Not only that, the UFW also informs us that "Upon being terminated Jiménez was not given his final pay check – as required by law. As of today, he still had not been paid."

They are absolutely right on this, furthermore I can add, a termination is not effective until all the moneys due are paid in full.

Since I don't know if UFW has legal representation on Mr. Jiménez, I'll assume they don't, they can't do much more than make pronouncements, or, can they? I also ignore if he was working under what is called "employment at will" conditions, albeit the latter is besides the matter at hand, in my opinion of course!

First of all, I do know that an employer needs to have, and inform the employees, of it's "diciplinary guidelines", do they have them? Were the employees informed of it?

I understand that any rule needs three qualifiers for it to be valid: 1. needs to be known, 2. be fair and 3. be equally applied", were these three conditions met in the firing?

Secondly, Mr. Jiménez asked for and got permission to be absent, why wasn't he told there would be a safety meeting? Why wasn't he told that missing it would be a cause for termination?

Any modicum of decency would mandate in all fairness, to not discipline an employee if what I see happened, did in fact happen, or if after the event, the true facts were known, but then... to expect decency in the field of Labor Contractors who according to reports, have a dismal record on working conditions, would be tantamount to be living in Pollyanna.

See? That's why I question why Mr. Dean Fryer, the spokesman for the State Labor Commission zeroed in immediately on retaliation as the cause of the dismissal, and also why I take exception on the tepid response by the UFW's leadership who have more important matters to tend to, such as negotiating contracts to import braceros from Mexico.

And by the way, the real reason Mr. Doroteo Jiménez was diciplined was not for retaliation, but so he couldn't be an example to other workers, or as paradoxically as the case may be, as an example to other workers, as intimidation so nobody messes with their profits.

María Isabel Vázquez Jiménez life was short and her death cruel, unjust and totally preventable, I think that she would want us to help her family, still in mourning, do what is just... and right, for her, for her family, for the Farm Workers.

Or the abuses will continue.

"De Colores" == >

Aurora Grajeda
SFCA 06.22.08


  1. I recently put together a video on you tube to honor the memories of many who have died on the job. Maria included. Her tragic story just broke my heart. I wish I could say that the firing of her uncle was a surprise but sadly I cant I've seen it far to many times. Corporate crime has no morals about it. Anyhow should anyone want to see the video its up on youtube.com via the following link.
    My heart goes out to Maria's friends & family.
    Mary Vivenzi
    Vice President
    United Support & Memorial for Workplace Fatalities

  2. Thank you Mary, I did go and see the video, very well done, I'll share it.
    "Workplace Fatalities Remember Me"
    You are right, going to work shouldn't be "A grave mistake" No profits ahead of workers' lives.

    "How much the life of a worker is worth?"



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