A Party So Twisted That It Has Banned Heat Protection Laws For Outdoor Workers

The GOP is Florida is proving itself over and over again that it couldn’t care less about workers. Today’s examples comes from its mindboggling ban on heat protection laws for farmworkers and other outdoor workers.

NPR reports:

“Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed a law that prevents cities or counties from creating protections for workers who labor in the state’s often extreme and dangerous heat.

Two million people in Florida, from construction to agriculture, work outside in often humid, blazing heat.

For years, many of them have asked for rules to protect them from heat: paid rest breaks, water, and access to shade when temperatures soar. After years of negotiations, such rules were on the agenda in Miami-Dade County, home to an estimated 300,000 outdoor workers.

But the new law, signed Thursday evening, blocks such protections from being implemented in cities and counties across the state.

Miami-Dade pulled its local heat protection rule from consideration after the statewide bill passed the legislature in March.

‘It’s outrageous that the state legislature will override the elected officials of Miami Dade or other counties that really recognize the importance of protecting that community of workers,’ says David Michaels, an epidemiologist at George Washington University and a former administrator at the federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA).

The loss of the local rule was a major blow to Miami-Dade activists and workers who had hoped the county heat protection rules would be in place before summer.

In a press conference on Friday, DeSantis said the bill he signed did not come from him. ‘There was a lot of concern out of one county, Miami-Dade. And I don’t think it was an issue in any other part of the state,’ DeSantis said. ‘I think they were pursuing something that was going to cause a lot of problems down there.’

But extreme heat will only get worse. ‘Last year was the hottest summer in Florida’s history. And this year will likely be the hottest summer in Florida’s history,’ says Esteban Wood, director of the advocacy group We-Count, one of the organizations working on heat protections in Miami-Dade. The new law, he says, represents ‘a profound loss for not only the campaign but for all the families that have for many years been fighting for the minimum—which was just water, shade and rest, and the right to return home after work alive.’

Lupe Gonzalo knows this reality well. She used to pick tomatoes in Florida during the summer and she’d find herself woozy from the heat. Sometimes she’d cramp up or get piercing headaches. Gonzalo shoved bottles of water into every pocket, but even that wasn’t nearly enough to get her through the day. Some colleagues, she says, went to the hospital with heat exhaustion—and some even died.

‘Without water, without rests, without shade, the body of a worker—it resents it,’ Gonzalo says in Spanish.”

For the full story, visit NPR here.

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