Two Buck Death Chuck – Trader Joe’s is Silent

I blogged about the tragic death of 17-year-old Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez who died while laboring in a Stockton area vineyard in 100 plus degree heat. According to a Wednesday AP story, the San Joaquin County Coroner has officially confirmed that Maria died of heat stroke. Maria had been working 8 hours in the blistering heat without shade or sufficient water. The closest water supply was a 10 minute walk away.

According to worker charges filed with Cal OSHA, the land owner where Maria suffered heat stroke continues to utilize labor contractors that don’t abide by the law. And Friday, a month after Maria’s passing, another charge was filed for lack of water and shade at one of the company’s locations.

Last week Cal OSHA closed down Merced and Solis Farm Labor after investigation into Maria’s death revealed ongoing violations.

Because Maria worked for a labor contractor, she most likely never knew she was part of the production team for Bronco Winery who is better known for Charles Shaw wines–commonly called “Two-Buck Chuck.” This best selling wine is available exclusively at Trader Joe’s stores. According to Trader Joe’s web site, “these super-value wines began as the result of an oversupply of wine and a great relationship with a valued supplier.”

Help us ask Trader Joe’s to use their “great relationship” to protect the workers who labor to pick the crop. Ask Trader Joe’s to implement a corporate policy to ensure that their suppliers are not violating the law by failing to provide farm workers with basic protections such as cold water, shade and clean bathrooms.

Requests of this type are not new to Trader Joe’s. Back in 2005 after the Humane Society and customers expressed concerns, Trader Joe’s agreed to sell only cage free eggs under the company’s label. We commend Trader Joe’s for this corporate responsibility and ask them to do the same for farm workers.

After all isn’t the life of a farm worker as important as the life of a chicken?

Photo credit Sacbee.com

I left a message on Trader Joe’s website last week – I have not received any reply or acknowledgment. I asked staff at the Eton Trader Joe’s what they thought of the situation and I was incredulous when they said they hadn’t heard anything about it.

Please take action.
http://www.ufwaction.org/campaign/2buckchuck?rk=T7BE6j5qJcVxW

some content via email from United Farm Workers

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8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Trader Joe’s Disappoints « Five Husbands
  2. Cheryl
    Jul 05, 2008 @ 18:49:00

    I never buy Two Buck Chuck, but I’ll definitely be more careful about not buying wines that Bronco owns. Thanks for the information!!

    Cheryl – yep Fred Franzia and Bronco Wines make a lot of product – I have started reading wind labels more carefully!

    Reply

  3. Bailey Hankins
    Jul 21, 2008 @ 12:30:38

    You mean Two Buck Chuck kills people who break into my country as well as tasting great? I’m going to go buy a whole case!

    Bailey Hankins left this hateful comment — I leave it up as an example of the degree of animosity migrant workers must endure. Truth is this country is made up of people, just like today’s illegal migrant workers “broke into” this country looking for a better life. My guess is even Bailey Hankins ancestors came here from somewhere else. The truth is that this country is dependent on migrant workers and as citizens of this country we cannot in good conscience turn our eyes away from abuse.

    Reply

  4. LHW
    Jul 23, 2008 @ 16:36:20

    Why didn’t Maria’s co-workers keep an eye on her? Why didn’t she take water with her? People who work these outdoor jobs need to hydrate the night before and the morning of. She had to know this, so why didn’t she? It is very sad but all the blame cannot be pinned onto TJ’s or the wineries/vineyards.

    Was she here and working legally?

    Dear Leisa – you might want to investigate the issue before you offer condemnation. I have decided to deal with your comment in a separate post. Check back because I will be breaking it down for you.

    Reply

  5. Trackback: He’s Not Heavy, He’s An Illegal « Five Husbands
  6. JOHN DICKENS
    Dec 20, 2008 @ 08:16:44

    HER FRIENDS SHOULD HAVE WATER FOR HER OR SHE SHOULD HAVE WATER WITH HER. I SHE ILLEGAL, WHERE ARE HER FRIENDS DON’T BLAME THE PEOPLE WHO HIRED HER BLAME HER FRIENDS. PEOPLE WHAT EVER THEIR LANGUAGE HAVE TO USE COMMOM SENSE. THE SAME GOES ON IN MEXICO IT IS VERY HOT THERE ALSO BRING WATER. IT IS ALWAYS THE OWNERS FAULT YOU PUT THE BLAME IN THE WRONG PLACE. SEND THEM HOME TO STARVE IF THEY WANT TO. PUT THE FENCE UP HIGH

    John – it is impossible for a worker to carry enough water to stay hydrated in the conditions they are required to work in. Please review the conditions, the risks and the law before you comment here again.

    Reply

  7. Wine Dude24
    Dec 20, 2008 @ 11:05:16

    I work for Bronco Winery and I drink their wine quite frequently and despite all this BS blogs emphasizing death and what not, quit enjoy the taste for the value. The above comment was correct, Maria should have been more responsible as far as taking care of herself by staying hydrated. It is very sad, but not anything to boycot about. Drop it!!

    Don, thank you for taking the time to read, comment and most of all for disclosing you work for Bronco, but I won’t drop it, nor will the UFW. Your comment reveals so much – a wilfull disregard of the law and the value of a worker’s life.

    I think you need to review what happens to a person working in extreme heat and then California law. It is the employer’s legal responsibility to make sure workers’ have water, shade and stay hydrated. The law was enacted for a reason – Bronco should make sure all the entities they hire follow the law.

    Reply

  8. stacy
    Jan 26, 2009 @ 02:35:00

    I am interested in knowing how often an event like this has happened, the time frame for all the other serious health conflicts and deaths, as well as how long she was employed there and how frequently she worked long hours in the field. I would also like to see an autopsy report that indicates the level of dehydration. It is a consciously progressive death. That level of severe hydration does not onset within one hour. If it was the last hour of her shift, it is slightly more forseeable. I am not sure of your legal experience or your detailed knowledge of California law, but forseeablity plays the key role in determining liability for this type of action. That means the number of employees there, their health considtions, and the time of employment by the girl all matter. If she was there for sufficient enough time to establish a hydration system, or was even witnessed taking water breaks before, there is no case unless you can prove a blatant refusal to let them stop, no breaks being provided, threatening of termination if she drank water…and as far as the need to stop carrying the wine in trader joe’s stores- seriously? You want them to stop doing something because someone sends them an email that says, “someone dies on one of your product’s birthing grounds. With no review, or looking into anything? Just accept a perfect stranger’s opinion to shut it all down? Only to have a lawsuit rule against them? Why not shut down every parking lot and road that someone dies on? Afterall, the police are responsible for monitoring roads, budgets are set aside specifically to target drunk drivers, transportation federal budgets are cut each year that take away from maintence. Why not lower the speed limit on a road every time someone gets in a accident, or if they are not speeding sue the state since the state set the limit? That is a sophmoric thinking process.

    I think you should read the full text of everything I have written on Trader Joe’s, California’s heat laws, the links in the posts. The questions in your comment would be answered.

    Reply

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