Farm Workers’ Gallo Wine Boycott Over!
(Beyond Pesticides, September 19, 2005) On September 14, 2005, hundreds of farmworkers and supporters joined United Farm Workers (UFW) President Arturo Rodriguez on the steps of San Francisco City Hall to toast the UFW contract with Gallo and announce an end to the Gallo Wine boycott. Three months ago, many of the same people gathered at the same place to launch the UFW’s first major nationwide boycott in more than 20 years. Gallo Wine, the leading U.S. wine exporter, is one of the world's biggest wine producers and the largest in the U.S. by cases sold. The new agreement covers all 310 Gallo farmworkers in Sonoma County, CA.
UFW now encourages people to buy Gallow and other union label wines. Other union wine labels include: Chateau Ste. Michelle, Columbia Crest, Saddle Mountain, Farron Ridge, North Star, Snoqualmie , St. Supery, Dollarhide Ranch, Scheid Vineyards Inc., Charles Krug, C.K. Mondavi, Gallo of Sonoma, Gallo Estate, R.ancho Zabaco, Anapamu, Marcelina and Indigo Hills. For other union label agricultural products see http://www.ufw.org/ulmth.htm.
As the farmworkers are struggling for rights through contracts and state regulations, federal law provides little relief. In 1996, EPA dealt a severe blow to the Worker Protection Standards created in 1974. The policy change allowed workers who had never received pesticide training to work five days in the fields without any information about the dangers. The new standards also reduced the number of days that growers must provide water for hand-washing (one gallon for every worker) from one month to one week for certain pesticides. Not surprisingly, two years later, skin rashes reported by field workers began to climb. In 1998, the rate was about 11 cases per 10,000 workers. By 2001, the rate jumped to nearly 27 cases per 10,000 workers, among the highest for any occupation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Farmworkers who are exposed to toxic pesticides on an ongoing basis are at greater risk for cancer, birth defects, depression and other diseases, as well as work-related injury. Under current U.S. pesticide law, farmworkers are not treated as equals with the rest of society. Pesticide cancer and other disease risks are permitted to be ten times higher for farmworkers than the general population.