State investigates working situations at Half Moon Bay taking pictures websites


The state has opened investigations into labor and office practices on the two websites of Monday’s deadly shootings in Half Moon Bay that left seven folks lifeless and solid a highlight on the lives of California’s farmworkers who typically stay and work in harmful situations.

The investigation comes after Gov. Gavin Newsom visited the seashore aspect neighborhood Tuesday, the place he spoke with the victims’ households and coworkers concerning the lethal taking pictures and their office environments.

With out naming specifics, Newsom mentioned some farmworkers have been “dwelling in transport containers” and dealing for $9 an hour, effectively beneath the state minimal wage of $15.50.

“No healthcare, no assist, no companies, however [they’re] taking good care of our well being, offering a service to us every day,” he mentioned on the information convention.

A spokesperson for Newsom referred to as the employees’ situations “merely deplorable” in an announcement.

“Our nation depends on their back-breaking work, but Congress can’t even present them the soundness of elevating their households and dealing on this nation with out concern of deportation, which contributes to their vulnerability within the office,” Daniel Villaseñor, deputy press secretary for Newsom’s workplace, mentioned within the assertion. “California is investigating the farms concerned within the Half Moon Bay taking pictures to make sure employees are handled pretty and with the compassion they deserve.”

Information of the investigation was first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle.

California’s Division of Occupational Security and Well being and the labor commissioner’s workplace confirmed they’re investigating the 2 work websites in Half Moon Bay for potential labor and office security and well being violations.

Each businesses “need to make sure that workers are being afforded all of the protections of California labor legal guidelines,” based on an announcement.

Half Moon Bay is a rural seashore city the place the bedrock trade is vegetable and flower farms, although many, significantly the flower farms, have closed lately, impacting job alternatives. Farm homeowners have additionally pointed to the state’s excessive climate, with floods and heavy winds, devastating their fields and the encircling infrastructure.

About 2,500 to three,000 farmworkers stay within the city at any given time, officers mentioned. Many settle within the rich neighborhood, after discovering regular work, typically dwelling in cellular houses or trailers on the farms the place they’re employed — only a brief drive, however out of sight, of the city’s multi-million-dollar coastal houses.

The 2 farms topic to the probe are California Terra Backyard alongside State Route 92, the location of the first assault, and Harmony Farms on Cabrillo Freeway, the location of the second assault.

David Oates, a disaster public relations professional employed by California Terra Backyard, declined to touch upon the investigation however instructed The Occasions an official with the state’s labor commissioner’s workplace was on the farm Wednesday.

Newsom’s characterization of low pay and poor dwelling situations for employees doesn’t “mirror the situations at California Terra Gardens,” he mentioned.

The corporate usually employs about 35 folks, and about eight households stay on website in cellular trailer houses which can be permitted and inspected by the county, Oates mentioned.

The households pay about $300 a month for lease, are compensated between $16.50 to $24 an hour and obtain well being advantages, he mentioned.

“We deal with them like relations,” he mentioned, including that a few of the households have lived on the property earlier than California Terra Backyard acquired the farm in March 2020.

Officers with Harmony Farms didn’t instantly reply to requests for remark.

The investigation comes after a gunman, whom authorities have recognized as Chunli Zhao, 66, opened fireplace at each areas, killing seven folks and injuring one in what authorities have characterised as a case of office violence.

The suspect, who officers mentioned has labored at and resided in trailers at Mountain Mushroom Farm, was “a co-worker or former co-worker of the victims at every taking pictures website,” the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Workplace mentioned.

Regulation enforcement officers allege the rampage befell after Zhao “snapped” due to a still-unknown grievance.

The suspect faces felony fees that might make him eligible for the dying penalty, authorities mentioned.

The taking pictures, which got here lower than 48 hours after a mass taking pictures in Monterey Park that killed 11 folks, has drawn consideration to what advocates say is a well known secret: Farms throughout the state — and the USA — typically thrive on poor and weak agricultural employees, a lot of whom are undocumented and are unaware of their rights.

Native authorities in latest days have additionally pledged to enhance working situations at space farms.

San Mateo County Dist. Atty. Steven Wagstaffe at a information convention Wednesday described the “squalor” that workers stay in, and mentioned the county govt instructed him in a cellphone name that morning, “Now we find out about it, and we’ve got to behave on it.”

Occasions workers author Susanne Rust contributed to this report.



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