Vigils slated Saturday
PCUN, Oregon's farmworker union, will host vigils at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 3, in St. Paul, Portland and Hermiston to honor Sebastian Francisco Perez.
Francisco Perez, 38, is a farmworker and family man who died while working in excessive heat in St. Paul on June 26.
During the vigils, PCUN and partner organizations will discuss the policies and regulations that are needed to prevent future tragedies, as farmworkers face harsh conditions due to climate change.
"Sebastian Francisco Perez's death was absolutely preventable," PCUN Executive Director Reyna Lopez said. "It shouldn't have taken a loss of precious life for Oregon leaders to take action, but that is what's happening.
"We are urgently working with Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration to develop emergency rules to protect workers, so no one has to choose between their health and their paycheck," Lopez added.
Among the rules advocates are seeking are provisions of shaded break areas; cool, clean water; heat-illness prevention programming; protections against retaliation; and a conclusion of work when temperatures exceed 90 degrees.
Francisco Perez's death was among scores in Oregon attributed to the recent record-setting heatwave. Officials have said those who perished ranged in age from 38 to 94.
On Thursday, July 1, the Oregon State Medical Examiner updated its demographic information -- county of death, gender and age -- on suspected heat-related deaths. The current number of deaths related to the recent heat wave is 79, but information may change as investigations are updated and new information is added by the county medical examiners.
Most of the deaths, 52, occurred in Multnomah County.
"This was a true health crisis that has underscored how deadly an extreme heat wave can be, especially to otherwise vulnerable people," Multnomah County Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Vines told the Portland Tribune. "I know many county residents were looking out for each other and am deeply saddened by this initial death toll. As our summers continue to get warmer, I suspect we will face this kind of event again."
Meanwhile, PCUN spokeswoman Patti Verduzco noted that the farmworker union is demanding emergency rules to protect workers from heat and wildfire smoke.
Who: PCUN, CAUSA, Latino Network, Farm Worker Ministry Northwest, United Farm Workers, United Farm Workers Foundation, Mano a Mano, Farmworker Housing Development Corporation, Evolve Workforce, Multifamily Housing Services, Blue Green Alliance, Alianza Poder Network, UFCW 555, Radio Poder 98.3FM, Racial Justice Organizing Committee, AFSC, Latinos Unidos Siempre.
When: 10 a.m. in St. Paul; noon in Portland; 2 p.m. in Hermiston on Saturday, July 3, 2021.
Where: Portland, noon, Guatemalan Honorary Consulate, 7304 N. Campbell Avenue, Portland, OR 97217; St. Paul, 10 a.m., nursery, 6180 Gearin Road, St. Paul, OR 97137; Portland, noon, Guatemalan Honorary Consulate, 7304 N. Campbell Avenue, Portland, OR 97217; Hermiston, 2 p.m., UFW Office, 220 S.W. 11th St., Hermiston, OR 97838.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.