María Cecilia Hinojos Pressey is operations director for PCUN (Pineros Y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste), Oregon’s farmworker union.

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The Frontline Victims of Climate Change

Farmworkers are putting their lives on the line to pick food for their communities.

“SEBASTIAN FRANCISCO PEREZ was a 38-year-old farmworker working at a tree farm in Saint Paul, Ore. He had come here to gain some money for fertility treatments for his wife, because they really wanted to start a family. I guess people just weren’t aware of the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. After some time, folks he was working alongside were like, ‘Hey, where’s Francisco?’ When they found him, he had passed away from the heat. When PCUN found out about that, we were outraged, because this was a very preventable death. We were openly advocating for the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division and the governor to issue emergency rules, because we knew something like this was going to happen. [After Perez’s death] we got these rules enacted. It’s important to have clean water, frequent breaks, and access to shaded areas, because when you’re in the field, there’s not really much cover.