Greetings Allies and Friends of the Alianza Agricola,
At this uncertain time during the spread of the COVID-19 virus, we want to thank all of you who continue to stand with us, and let you know we are thinking of you and wishing you well.
As undocumented immigrant farmworkers - now considered “essential” workers - we continue going to work every day to be able to produce the food that everyone needs. Yet, once again, we are left out of most benefits, this time the recent federal legislation that just passed. Most of us still don’t have healthcare and aren’t sure how we will afford medical care if we get sick or how we will support our families if we can’t work and aren’t paid. All of this adds insult to injury because week after week, year after year, we continue to pay income tax and contribute to Social Security, with little in return.
The situation we are going through is sad, but what is more sad is that it is moments like this that should unite us all in the same fight. But that’s not what is happening. Just like always, we are cast aside. The lives of farmworkers continue to be the same: work and work and work so that food can get to the table of Americans, regardless of their race, color, religion or anything else. It’s also ironic that we as immigrants, a community who is so often kept isolated, are today the ones who are free to go out, but that’s only because we have to work. Alianza member and gabinete leader Alma Tzalain shares what it is like when she got sick last week:
“Hi, I am Alma, a farmworker and well, the truth is that I had an experience at my job. On Monday I got really sick and I had a headache, fever, sore throat. These are really hard situations and honestly I didn’t know what to do. There wasn’t medicine in the stores, nor masks. It’s hard for us as immigrants, it’s hard to be in a country that isn’t ours, and in this crisis that we’re in right now, it is even harder for us. It’s harder to go to work, to have to pay for a ride for someone to bring us to the store. And then we get to the store and there’s no food, and that is hard. Also we know our children have to eat and many people we know have been left without work and still have to pay the rent, so honestly we are living really tough times.”
Below, is another message via video from another Alianza Agricola gabinete member Victor Cortez:
Given all of this, we are asking that allies continue to advocate for us so we may gain access to some of the benefits that will help us if we need them.
1. Help facilitate the availability of food and supplies for our members. Too often we have paid a lot of money to get a ride to the store only to find the shelves empty of basic staples. Some of us work for dairies where our employers prefer we don’t leave at all. If you are able to help out by getting food out to us or can help to coordinate these efforts, please email [email redacted] to let us know. For more questions or to volunteer to help coordinate this, call Luis Jimenez: (585) 642-3651.
2. We have set up this Go Fund Me emergency fund if an Alianza member becomes sick and needs support with medical bills, lost wages, or other unexpected expenses. We could also use these funds as hazard pay for those of us who are risking exposure to the virus because we have to continue working. Further, because all of us are ineligible for most of the federal relief bill, please consider donating a portion of your $1,200 you will receive if you are able to.
3. Alianza Agricola co-signed a letter along with other farmworker advocacy organizations across the state to demand that New York take swift action to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of its farmworkers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please consider contacting Governor Cuomo, your NYS State Senator and Assembly Member today and ask them to:
- Work with us to coordinate a plan to address the needs of undocumented farmworkers
- Require all employers to inform us in a language we understand about our rights to COVID-19-related benefits, like paid sick leave, paid family leave, and temporary disability.
- Provide direct financial assistance to farmworker families regardless of our immigration status.
- Mandate and enforce adequate health and safety protocols specific to COVID-19 for on farms and in farmworker housing.
Luis Jimenez, Marcos Martinez, Alma Tzalain, Ismael Castellanos, Macario Castillo, Victor Cortez and all of the members of the farmworker-founded, farmworker-led Alianza Agricola
- Miriam Edwin
- Catherine S DeWitt
Fundraising team: Alianza Agricola Emergency Solidarity Fund COVID19 (3)
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