On the very day the Coachella Valley Housing

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					                                CRLA NEWS

                                                                                                IN THE
                                  C A L I F O R N I A R U R A L L E G A L A S S I S TA N C E , I N C .
I   WWW. CRL A . ORG                   THIS NEWSLETTER IS MADE POSSIBLE BY A GRANT FROM UNION BANK OF CALIFORNIA                                                  FALL 2007




            Register-Pajaronian
                           WAT S O N V I L L E , C A • J A N U A RY 1 7 , 2 0 0 7

       MINIMUM WAGE LAWSUITS SETTLED
       By Amanda Schoenberg



A      lawsuit filed by California Rural Legal
       Assistance against MayWay Wash and Dry
       over charges the Watsonville business paid
an employee less than the minimum wage was set-
tled Thursday for $16,000.
                                                                           “It was a great outcome
                                                                        because it was a worker
                                                                       who stood up for her rights
Under the settlement reached through mediation by
Santa Cruz Superior Court Judge Robert Atack,                              and was able to obtain
MayWay Wash and Dry and owner Walid Sublaban
will pay $16,000 to plaintiff Dolores Angeles. If the                           justice in the end.”
business does not pay within 90 days, the amount
will increase to $22,000, according to CRLA staff             per week for 44 hours of work, which adds up to          CRLA often sees cases involving local workers who
attorney Luis Alejo.                                          $3.86 an hour. When Angeles requested more               do not confront employers about labor practices,
                                                              money, Alejo charges that her wage was increased to      Alejo said.
The settlement is not an admission of liability by the
                                                              $200 a week, but her hours were increased to 53
employer or the worker. Owners of the East Lake                                                                        “One of the biggest cases is when workers are afraid
Avenue business also agreed to abide by state wage            per week.
                                                                                                                       to assert their rights or don’t know who to turn to,”
laws in the future, Alejo said. In the lawsuit, the           When Angeles worked at MayWay, state minimum
business was accused of not paying overtime wages                                                                      he said.
                                                              wage was set at $6.75 an hour.
or providing breaks and failing to maintain payroll                                                                    After the settlement, Angeles, 57, who arrived in
records and provide itemized wage statements to               Sublaban’s attorney, John Hannon II, said the facts
                                                                                                                       Watsonville from Michoacan, Mexico, five years
employees.                                                    remained in dispute, despite Thursday’s settlement.
                                                                                                                       ago, said she was satisfied with the outcome.
According to Alejo, the case has already affected             “We never agreed that those facts were true,” he said.   Before working at MayWay, she said she was not
workers. He said owners have hired a payroll                  “While we’re not exactly thrilled, the decision is       aware of minimum wage or break requirements.
agency and workers are paid with itemized wage                probably correct because they were asking for            She was not sure where to go for help when she
statements, instead of cash, and have lunch and                                                                        was fired from her job, but co-workers asked her
                                                              $42,000 and they got a whole lot less,” Hannon
rest breaks.                                                                                                           to speak out, she said.
                                                              said. “My client made an economic decision.”
“It was a great outcome because it was a worker who                                                                    “It is great that this was settled now,” Angeles said.
                                                              According to Alejo, business owners can risk stiff
stood up for her rights and was able to obtain jus-                                                                    “I hope businesses don’t keep taking advantage of
                                                              fines for not providing wage statements or providing
tice in the end,” Alejo said.                                                                                          us. We are poor, humble people.”
                                                              back salary to employees. In addition to civil penal-
According to Alejo, Angeles worked at the laundry             ties, employers can face criminal charges for not
for two and a half years, where she was paid $170             paying taxes on wages.




                       The Desert Sun                                                                                  Despite her July 20 due date, the 44-year-old farm-
                                                                                                                       worker continues to stoop in a valley vineyard to
                                                                                                                       put food on her table.
                                PA L M S P R I N G S , C A • J U N E 2 2 , 2 0 0 7                                     “Bills, they don’t pay themselves,” explained her 18-
                                                                                                                       year-old son, Sergio Dominguez.

           FARMWORKERS FACING EVICTIONS                                                                                She met the news Thursday with relief, and tears.
           By Nicole C. Brambila                                                                                       Carbajal is one of six farmworker families – out of
                                                              Riverside County sheriff’s deputies were told to put     work because of freezing temperatures in

O       n the very day the Coachella Valley Housing
        Coalition celebrated placing 39 families into
        homes of their own, the nonprofit organiza-
tion nearly put a family of 10 on the streets.
                                                              a lock on Edith Carbajal’s mobile home in Mecca
                                                              on Thursday, before the housing agency reversed its
                                                              decision to evict her family for missing a $265 rent
                                                              payment.
                                                                                                                       November and December – that faced eviction
                                                                                                                       from the Paseo De Los Heros Mobile Home Park
                                                                                                                       in Mecca.
                                                                                                                       They all participate in a county program designed in
                                                              The reprieve Thursday afternoon followed a story         2002 to move families out of unsafe housing.
                                                              posted on thedesertsun.com.                              An attorney representing three of the families called
                                                              Eight-months pregnant and single with nine chil-         the eviction unfair.
                                                              dren, Carbajal had already moved plastic garbage         “What makes this case so difficult is they failed to
                                                              sacks of clothing into her sister’s mobile home          pay rent on time for one month when there was an
                                                              Thursday afternoon.                                      emergency, a disaster,” said Arturo Rodriguez, an
                                                                                                                       attorney with California Rural Legal Assistance in
                                                                                                                       Indio.
                                                                                                                       “The families are losing their mobile homes.”


                                                                                                                                                              continued on page 2




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                  Appeal-Democrat                                                                               he said. “It’s difficult to feel effective in repre-
                                                                                                                senting my clients without thinking and
                                                                                                                addressing some of the more systemic and deep
                         M A RY S V I L L E , C A • O C T O B E R 2 9 , 2 0 0 6                                 social and economic problems.”
                                                                                                                Yuba and Sutter counties “are among the poorest
                  PUBLIC INTEREST IS HIS THING                                                                  counties in the state,” Pliscou said.
                  By Harold Kruger                                                                              It’s a tough job, he said, but “now that I’m married
                                                                                                                and have kids, I’m not burned out anymore.
                                                                                                                I have something important to do besides work.
Lee Pliscou says he became a lawyer because his                                                                 The kind of work I do, there was nothing I had in
father told him he should.                                                                                      life as important as that. It’s easy to spend too
“My dad was right about so many things, I fig-                                                                  much time doing work. Now I know the kids are
ured he might be right about this as well – plus                                                                waiting for me at home, so I go home and I'm not
I didn't have a better plan,” said Pliscou, now                                                                 burned out.”
directing attorney of the California Rural Legal
Assistance office in Marysville. “My dad was not                                                                Harold Kruger is a veteran reporter and copy editor for
a lawyer. We grew up in a small community in                                                                    the Appeal-Democrat. His column, “Off Beat,” appears
Imperial County, and my dad, without any par-                                                                   Sundays. He can be reached at 749-4717, or via e-mail
ticular skills or training, became a gadfly.”                                                                   at hkruger@appealdemocrat.com

Pliscou, who was raised in El Centro, said his
father would write letters to the editor of the                                                                               SPECIAL THANKS
local newspaper and became “a bit if a local
celebrity. I don’t know that he had any particular
agenda that he followed, but he certainly had a         Photo by John Hollis
                                                                                                                          TO THE LAW FIRM OF
heart for the underdog.”
                                                                                 “It wasn’t until                        HOWARD RICE
Pliscou's father “had no particular status in the
community, other than he was right about a lot                                   I practiced law                       NEMEROVSKI ET AL
of things,” his son said, and was “pretty much a
huge character.”
                                                                                that I knew what
                                                                                                                              AND ATTORNEYS
Pliscou, 49, didn’t go straight into public-interest                              was going on
law out of law school.                                                         behind the scenes.”                                Marty Glick
He said he had “zero interest” in becoming a cor-
porate lawyer.
                                                                                                                                Michael Gallo
                                                        Californians, including migrant workers, annually.
“I joined the Coast Guard out of law school,” he        It has 22 offices throughout the state. California                       Bernard Burk
said. “That’s helping people, pulling drowning          Rural Legal Assistance gets much of its funding
people out of the water. That's my idea of help-        from the federal Legal Services Corporation.                          Jennifer Rhodes
ing people.”
                                                        Being a lawyer allows Pliscou to peek “behind the
                                                                                                                              for providing between
After he got out of the Coast Guard, Pliscou got a      facade” of a community.
call from CRLA.                                                                                                               $500,000 - $1 million
                                                        “It wasn’t until I practiced law that I knew what                      in pro bono services
“Ever since that time, I’ve been, to use the analogy,   was going on behind the scenes,” he said.
                                                                                                                                 assisting CRLA in
pulling drowning bodies out of the water, perhaps
                                                        Yuba-Sutter is a “really unique” place because                      its defense during recent
not so dramatically,” he said.
                                                        “the problems that my individual clients have are                 governmental investigations.
Founded in the mid-1960s, CRLA, a nonprofit,            connected and interrelated to so many social and
provides legal services to about 20,000 poor, rural     economic factors that exist in this community,”




FARMWORKERS FACING EVICTIONS
                                                                                                                last fall that preceded the January frost, which
continued from page 1                                                                                           damaged $86 million in Riverside County crops.
Carbajal did not qualify for services with              Manicured lawns dot the paved streets in Paseo De       For the latter freeze, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger
California Rural Legal Assistance and is not repre-     Los Heros Mobile Home Park in Mecca where a             declared a state of emergency Jan. 10, in 58 coun-
sented by Rodriguez. The three families Rodriguez       barefoot child chases after an ice cream truck.         ties, including Riverside.
represented in court last week received judicial        It’s a very different scene from the dirt roads that    More than 75 percent of Coachella Valley farm-
relief and will be permitted to pay their back rent.    are littered with potholes and ramshackle mobile        workers earn less than $15,000 a year, according
Two other families still face eviction.                 homes where many of the Paseo De Los Heros              to a 2006 survey released earlier this year. Yet, it
“Each case stands on its own,” said Pedro               residents once lived.                                   generally costs nearly $1,000 a month to house a
Rodriguez, chief financial officer with the             “I don’t have anything without my house,” Isabel        family of four in most of the valley’s nine cities and
Coachella Valley Housing Coalition. “We’ll respect      Salgado said in Spanish.                                unincorporated areas.
the judge’s order on those three cases.”
                                                        Salgado, whose 18-year-old college-bound son rep-       Desert Alliance for Community Empowerment
Community activists formed the Coachella Valley         resented the family in court earlier in the week,       offered to help the families with money earmarked
Housing Coalition in 1982 to address the lack of        heads back on Monday to fight her family's eviction.    for disaster relief from an $80,000 California
descent farmworker housing. The nonprofit agency                                                                Endowment grant.
                                                        Fearing a sheriff’s deputy early morning knock on
has built nearly 3,000 homes and apartments for         the door, Mireya Perez vacated her mobile home          “I’m trying to find a good ending,” Pedro
low-income families in Riverside and Imperial           along with her husband, six children and mother.        Rodriguez said. “We’re in the business of providing
Counties, their Web site says.
                                                        Rodriguez is hopeful the Housing Coalition will         affordable housing to people.”
Carbajal's eviction would have been the first since     permit the family to return home if they, as the        MOBILE HOME PROGRAM
the park opened in 2004. Instead, two of the six        others, pay back rent and about $1,300 in attorney
families were evicted.                                                                                          The Mobile Home Tenant Assistance Loan
                                                        fees and court costs.
                                                                                                                Program offers interest-free loans to mobile home
“This was a very difficult decision,” Pedro             All the families said they fell on hard times because   owners in unpermitted parks in danger of being
Rodriguez said. “We don’t normally evict people.”       of 13 days of at or below freezing temperatures         condemned.




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Monterey County Weekly                                                                                              Farmers are expected to increasingly use a mix of
                                                                                                                    telone and chloropicrin as methyl bromide
                                                                                                                    becomes less available. While chloropicrin and
                               M O N T E R E Y, C A • J U LY 1 2 , 2 0 0 7                                          telone are designed to control nematodes or
                                                                                                                    roundworms, and certain soil-borne pathogens,
                                                                                                                    they are also toxic to humans.
               PESTICIDES GET GREEN LIGHT                                                                           Telone, also called 1,3-Dichloropropene, can cause
               CALIFORNIA RURAL LEGAL ASSISTANCE ATTORNEYS                                                          irreversible eye damage. Rats exposed to the chem-
                     APPEAL THE DECISION TO THE STATE                                                               ical developed tumors in their lungs, liver, thyroid
                                                                                                                    and other parts of their body. Still, the EPA con-
               By Zachary Stahl
                                                                                                                    cludes that even after 30 years of exposure, the
                                                                                                                    chance of humans developing cancer from telone is
                                                                                                                    still a long shot.
                                                                                                                    The US Environmental Protection Agency classifies
                                                                                                                    chloropicrin in the highest toxicity category because
                                                                                                                    it is extremely irritating to the eyes, skin and upper
                                                                                                                    respiratory tract. The latest chloropicrin poisoning
                                                                                                                    occurred in October 2005, when the pesticide drift-
                                                                                                                    ed into the Creekbridge neighborhood in Salinas
                                                                                                                    and sickened about 60 residents.
                                                                                                                    On July 3 Rodoni received the green light from the
                                                                                                                    Monterey County Agricultural Commissioner to
                                                                                                                    inject the pesticides into the soil over a three-month
                                                                                                                    period, starting July 15. Telone and chloropicrin
                                                                                                                    would be used on the 13 acres of crops directly
                                                                                                                    across the street from Moss Landing Heights. A mix-
                                                                                                                    ture of methyl bromide and chloropicrin would be
                                                                                                                    applied to the rest. The use of less methyl bromide
                                                              “These pesticides are known to affect your devel-

M         arilyn Lynds-Dismukes and her neighbors                                                                   and assurances by the Agricultural Commissioner
          in Moss Landing thought they had it bad             opment system and she is just starting to grow,”      haven’t made residents feel any safer.
          last year when a farmer planned to pump             Lynds-Dismukes says.
                                                                                                                    Salinas’ California Rural Legal Assistance office
methyl bromide into the soil outside their homes.             Across Portero Road is a plot of green lettuce        has appealed the decision to the California
Methyl bromide, a fumigant used to kill parasites             shoots and ag fields that stretch to the Salinas      Department of Pesticide Regulation.
and weeds, has been proven to cause neurological              River. Farmers have long grown artichokes and
damage and reproductive harm. But now, instead                row crops on the land near Moss Landing Heights.      Although the chemicals will be injected into the
of this dangerous chemical, Lynds-Dismukes and                The small neighborhood protested last year when       ground, this doesn’t mean that neighbors won’t be
her family could be breathing a pesticide cocktail                                                                  exposed to the toxins. Residents fear they will be
of telone, a likely carcinogen, and chloropicrin, a                                                                 breathing in the fumigants when they off-gas to the
tear-gas-like toxin that can cause vomiting.                            “While chloropicrin and                     atmosphere. According to the EPA, people who live
                                                                                                                    near fields injected with telone may be exposed to a
The chemicals will also be applied closer to home.                       telone are designed to                     volatized form of the substance for two weeks after
While methyl bromide can’t be applied within 300                                                                    the application.
feet of residences, the state Department of                              control nematodes or
Pesticide Regulation only requires a 100-foot                                                                       In his decision to uphold the pesticide permit, Ag
buffer for telone and chloropicrin. This is unnerv-                    roundworms, and certain                      Commissioner Eric Lauritzen said Rodoni will fol-
ing to Lynds-Dismukes.                                                                                              low all state regulations to mitigate any exposure
                                                                      soil-borne pathogens, they                    to off-gassing. Any drift that could occur during
“Nobody in this neighborhood wants to be poi-                                                                       the application is very unlikely since the fumi-
soned or see their kids poisoned,” she says while                     are also toxic to humans.”                    gants will be injected at least 10 inches into the
sitting in her wheelchair with a small crowd of                                                                     ground, Lauritzen says. “In evaluating proposed
neighbors on Portero Road near Highway 1.                                                                           pesticide applications our most important priori-
Lynds-Dismukes has post-polio syndrome and her                San Juan Berry Farm tried to plant strawberries       ty is human safety, and we do not compromise on
husband is recovering from cancer. Neither of                 and apply methyl bromide on 26 acres close to         that,” he says.
them wants to jeopardize their health further with            their homes. The farm then moved its berries back
                                                              1,000 feet from the residents.                        Due to residents’ concerns, including 52 letters,
pesticide exposure. Plus, they have an 11-year                                                                      Lauritzen extended the buffer zone by 25 feet. So
daughter, who is home schooled and likes to                   But now Steve Rodoni of Springfield Farms wants       instead of the barrier starting at their doorsteps, it
play outside.                                                 to fumigate more than 54 of these acres to grow       would start at their property lines and go 100 feet
                                                              strawberries. Rodoni selected telone and chloropi-    across Portero Road to the field.
                                                              crin as an alternative to the unpopular methyl bro-
                                                              mide, which will soon be phased out due to its        Mike Meuter, director of litigation, advocacy and
                                                              effects on the ozone layer. Rodoni did not return     training for CRLA, says Lauritzen abused his discre-
                                                              calls seeking comment.                                tion by issuing the permit. Meuter says the Ag
                                                                                                                    Commissioner failed to consider impacts on the
                                                                                                                    western snowy plover and southern sea otter.
                                                                                                                    Using the road as a buffer is unacceptable, Meuter
                                                                                                                    says. “There are kids that play on that road. There
                                                                                                                    needs to be additional protection for the people
                                                                                                                    who live out there.”
                                                                                                                    CRLA has requested that the Department of
                                                                                                                    Pesticide Regulation halt any pesticide applications
                                                                                                                    until the state department has made a decision on
                                                                                                                    CRLA’s appeal. Meuter also requested a public meet-
                                                                                                                    ing to review the pesticide permit. By press time a
                                                                                                                    meeting date had not been set.




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             Los Angeles Times                                                                                 Sierra-Cascade’s human resources director, Larry
                                                                                                               Memmott, said the company was using the visa
                                                                                                               program for the first time and had made mistakes.
                            LOS ANGELES, CA • NOVEMBER 5, 2006                                                 “We may not have provided the proper food for
                                                                                                               them in the beginning,” he said. “We may have
         IN THE FIELDS, A RUDE AWAKENING                                                                       missed a meal. But we went in and corrected what
                                                                                                               we need to correct…We’ll take our lumps and
         By Lee Romney, Staff Writer
                                                                                                               move forward.”
                                                                                                               The complaining workers were “bad apples,”

F     or some laborers, U.S. guest worker pro-
      gram was a bitter letdown that fell short of
      their dream.
Tulelake, California — The ad in his hometown
                                                             “From the moment we got on
                                                           the bus in Nogales, we knew they
                                                           were feeding us lies... they gave us
                                                                                                               he added.
                                                                                                               Advocates with California Rural Legal Assistance,
                                                                                                               which has filed suit on behalf of more than 50
                                                                                                               workers, point instead to systemic problems that
newspaper was enticing, the meeting with a com-
                                                                                                               arise when human labor becomes an importable
pany recruiter even more so.                                 a liquid diet — pure water —                      commodity. Employees entirely dependent on the
For six to eight weeks of strawberry work, Ricardo           for 24 hours. Those who had                       sponsoring company are unfamiliar with the law
Valle and his wife, Ana Luisa Salinas, would get                                                               and unlikely to complain, they say.
good pay, free transportation to and from Mexico               money could eat. The rest                       “Unlike workers in any other part of the free mar-
with food included, three daily meals — even a lit-
                                                                                                               ket, who have the ability to vote with their feet,
tle cabanita with a kitchenette that they would                     of us, we ate air.”                        these workers don’t,” said Mark Schacht of the
share with just one other couple.
                                                                                                               rural legal group's foundation, which plans to
Like most of the 250 Mexicans on U.S. guest                                                                    propose state legislation to strengthen worker
worker visas who arrived Sept. 22 at this lonely                                                               protections.
post near the Oregon border, Valle and Salinas did
the math: In the contract period promised, they                                                                “These guys get delivered when the employer
could make more than they would in a year and a                                                                wants. They get taken away when the employer
half in Nogales, Mexico. Valle quit his maquilado-                                                             wants, and they are subjected to a regime that has
ra job, where for a dozen years he had assembled                                                               elements of un-free labor.”
electric curtain motors.                                                                                       Sierra-Cascade’s seedlings are grown in Northern
As strict immigration enforcement limits the pool                                                              California and Oregon, then trimmed and shipped
of available farmhands, growers are clamoring to                                                               to warmer climates. In 2004, Memmott said, an
expand the federal guest worker program. But the                                                               immigration review indicated that 80% of the
experience of the workers, whose contract ended                                                                company’s workers were undocumented.
last week, offers a rare look at the system's poten-                                                           “Last year, we couldn’t fill our trim shed at all,”
tial pitfalls. In interviews and legal declarations,                                                           Memmott said. “We figured that this year we
dozens of workers have said they went hungry                                                                   weren’t going to wait and see.”
not just on the bus north but in the weeks that
followed. Instead of the cabanitas, they got                                                                   Memmott recruited in the state of Chihuahua and
crowded dorms. They were also paid less than                                                                   in neighboring Sonora, which has achieved rela-
they’d been told they would be — and less than          Salomon Sarita Sanchez works in a crew of strawberry   tive prosperity from ranching and multinational
                                                        pickers, made up of indigenous Mixtec immigrants       assembly plants known as maquiladoras.
the law required — for a shorter period than            from Oaxaca.
they'd been promised.                                                                                          Some learned of the jobs through friends. Some
                                                        Many failed and quit. Others were fired. Soon,
“From the moment we got on the bus in Nogales,          only a little over half the original workforce was     saw fliers. Rigoberto Talamantes Flores and his
we knew they were feeding us lies,” Valle, 52, said     left. The employer, Sierra-Cascade Nursery of          wife, Alicia Punuelas Ledezma, both 42, of Nuevo
as he tended to his sick wife in a cramped dormi-       Susanville, Calif., is now under investigation by      Casa Grande, Chihuahua, heard a radio pitch.
tory set up in an exhibition hall on the county fair-   the U.S. Department of Labor, which oversees the       “We thought we would come, because of the illu-
grounds here. On the bus, he said, “they gave us a      guest worker program. California’s Department of       sion that it would alleviate some of the economic
liquid diet – pure water – for 24 hours. Those who      Industrial Relations has ordered the company to        pressures on us,” said Flores, who shuttered
had money could eat. The rest of us, we ate air.”       correct numerous wage violations and conduct a         his shoeshine shop to make the trip.
                                                        self-audit.                                            They said they were told the pay would be $9 an
After they arrived in Tulelake, the workers said,
they found out their contract term had been cut         And, responding to an emergency request by             hour – the legally required rate under the program
nearly in half, to just over a month. Furthermore,      attorneys for the nonprofit advocacy group             – plus production bonuses. Nowhere in the solic-
they were required to trim 1,025 strawberry             California Rural Legal Assistance, a federal           itation, workers said, was any mention of the high
plants per hour to prepare them for later trans-        judge two weeks ago ordered Sierra-Cascade to          work quota. That was disclosed only in the
plantation. Without farm experience, meeting the        make meals more nutritious, give workers more          contracts handed out at night in Susanville, where
goal proved so grueling that they worked through        living space and heat the fairgrounds’ frigid          the bus dropped off 200 visa holders before taking
breaks and lunchtime.                                   shower rooms.                                          the Tulelake workers farther north.




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                                                                                                                                  HOW TO GIVE TO CRL A
Disappointments multiplied upon arrival. The site            It was a Oaxacan laborer from the Central Valley
of the nation’s largest World War II Japanese                who took pity on the visa holders. The worker
internment camp, Tulelake sits in a desolate vol-            called an activist in Oaxaca, who in turn contact-                                  DONATE NOW TO
canic basin of rich soil. Road signs warn motorists          ed an organizer at the Fresno office of the rural law
not to run down migrating fowl, more numerous                group. That organization alerted regulators and                          CRLA’S 41ST ANNIVERSARY
here than humans.                                            dispatched attorneys to Tulelake.                                                 JUSTICE CAMPAIGN
“We were cramped so close together that our legs             Memmott said his company is cooperating with
would knock when we put on our shoes,” Reyna                 the U.S. Department of Labor. In response to the                                   AND UNION BANK
Amelia Tarango Ponce, 45, whose husband closed               agency, he said, the laundry machines now oper-
                                                                                                                                            OF CALIFORNIA WILL
his Chihuahua brake shop to come north, said of              ate without coins and the kitchen is serving
the dormitories.                                             healthier fare.                                                           MATCH YOUR DONATION*
At first, couples were housed with single women –            Meanwhile, the state Department of Industrial
until a man was accused of a sexual assault during           R e l a t i o n s ’ D i v i s i o n o f L a b o r S t a n d a rd s   Each year, California Rural Legal
the night. Foreman Javier Chavez fired the                   Enforcement has notified Sierra-Cascade that it is
accused worker and installed wooden barriers to              violating labor law by failing to pay overtime after                 Assistance provides more than
split the room.                                              eight hours, to ensure rest breaks and a 30-minute                   39,000 poor Californians and
                                                             lunch break, and to compensate workers for time
The eight-hour days that workers say they were
                                                             in transit and waiting to begin work.                                their families with no-cost legal
promised, and for which they were paid, quickly
stretched to 10 – and longer, with the bus ride to                                                                                services, community outreach
the trim shed, where they stood in the cold for up                                                                                and educational workshops to
to an hour waiting to begin.                                           “These guys get delivered
                                                                                                                                  improve their lives.
Breakfast at first consisted of bread and coffee;                     when the employer wants.
after a few weeks the food did improve when
Memmott changed cooks. Come payday, many                              They get taken away when                                    Give to CRLA today!
workers were unable to cash their checks in the                        the employer wants, and                                    Please use the enclosed
tiny town, whose bank is closed Saturdays and                                                                                     envelope to donate to CRLA.
charges $15 for the service.                                            they are subjected to a
                                                                                                                                  Your individual gift to CRLA is needed.
“We have nothing – not even enough to buy soap,"                       regime that has elements                                   When you contribute to CRLA,
said Valle, who, without change for the laundry
machines, spent Sundays scrubbing clothes under                            of un-free labor.”                                     you take an active role in ensuring that
a cold outdoor spigot and drying them on the fair-                                                                                California's poorest communities
grounds’ chain-link fence.                                                                                                        have access to justice.
                                                             They “intend to correct the issues we’ve addressed
The gloves, aprons and boots that advocates say              and pay restitution to their employees,” said Dean                   Your donation will directly support
are required by law – to protect workers from such           Fryer of the Department of Industrial Relations.                     CRLA's work to:
hazards as icy plants and knife blades – were not
provided, though some workers purchased them.                The pending lawsuit alleges, among other viola-                      N   Provide farm worker families with safe
                                                             tions, that the company, through false representa-                       and affordable housing
Attorneys for the workers say the production                 tions, enticed the workers across an international
quota is unreasonable and should have been dis-              border.                                                              N   Fight sexual harrassment in the
closed during recruitment. Memmott says he                                                                                            agricultural industry
showed them a video and told them: “It’s going to            Memmott attributed the problems to the pro-
be cold. It’s going to be hard work.”                        gram’s learning curve. Sierra-Cascade had                            N   Advocate for immigrant civil rights
                                                             planned to provide couples the more private                          N   Enforce the right of all children in
Many others make the grade, he said. Most are                housing in nearby Newell, he added. But when
domestic hires – experienced migrants from the                                                                                        California to a quality education
                                                             fewer guest workers arrived than anticipated,
poorer farming states of Oaxaca and Michoacan.               the company opted to save the cost and time of                       N   Guarantee workers receive their wages
The working conditions, housing, wages and food              busing them farther.                                                     for an honest day's work
are no better or worse than what they are used to,
said 28-year-old Alejandro Ramirez of Zamora,                Next year, he said, the company might seek some                      N   Promote health access and health care for
Michoacan. “Those on the contract, they were                 more-experienced workers farther south in                                low-income children and their parents
made certain promises,” he said. “But for us, it’s           Mexico. Advocates, however, say they may peti-
                                                                                                                                  N   Help victims of domestic violence to
pretty good.”                                                tion the U.S. Department of Labor to block Sierra-
                                                                                                                                      start a new life
                                                             Cascade from using the program.
On a recent morning in the company’s trim shed,
                                                                                                                                  N   Protect the elderly and immigrants
18-year-old Federico Hernandez of Oaxaca moved               The company has pledged to make workers
                                                             whole. Still, some damage cannot be undone,                              from consumer fraud
with a spasmodic rhythm, his hands twitching and
his feet dancing as he separated plants at the roots.        workers said. In Mexico, where age discrimination
Working this way, he said proudly, he could trim             is pervasive, Valle is certain he will never get his
                                                             maquiladora job back.                                                We value your philanthropic and civic
1,200 plants an hour and make a decent wage.
                                                                                                                                  leadership. Thank you again for giving.
But a lack of experience hampered many of the                “Twelve years to quit for the American Dream,
                                                             which is now a nightmare,” he said.                                  N Make a cash gift, or write out a check.
visa holders.
                                                                                                                                  N Make a commemorative gift in honor of a
                                                                                                                                      person or in memory of a loved one.
                                                                                                                                  N Make a stock contribution (speak to
                                                                                                                                      your broker).
                                                                                                                                  N Designate CRLA in a planned gift
                                                                                                                                      (will, trust, insurance policy).
                                                                                                                                  N Make a gift of real estate.
                                                                                                                                  N Make a single or a multi-year $ pledge.

                                                                                                                                  N Make a gift of goods and/or services.
                                                                                                                                  All CRLA donors receive the Annual Report and are acknowledged by mail
                                                                                                                                  and in print. Contributions to CRLA are tax-deductible as allowed by law.
                                                                                                                                  CRLA is a tax-exempt corporation under Federal Internal Revenue Code
                                                                                                                                  Section 501(c)(3). For further information, please contact Claire Rase at
                                                                                                                                  (415) 777-2794, extension 309.
                                                                                                                                                                                  (*up to $125,000)




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                                                                                                                                                                                         A     G    E
                                                     B A N K I N G                             F O R                S M A L L                    B U S I N E S S




Y     ou put your life into your business, whether it’s the pro bono work                              • Unlimited network ATM cash withdrawals or transfers within the
      you do for California Rural Legal Assistance or the income-generat-                                United States and free ATM mini-statements3
      ing side of your practice. Union Bank of California believes you
should be rewarded for your passion.                                                               Financing Options
                                                                                                   Obtain the funds to build your business.
Designed to reward you for your financial achievements, Signature Banking
from Union Bank of California offers you a variety of fee-free and discount-                           • Up to 1% off the standard interest rate on a business loan
ed products and services, including special rates on business loans.                                     and/or line of credit6, 7
                                                                                                       • $150 off the application fee on a business loan and/or the
Complimentary Services                                                                                   documentation fees on an equipment lease6
Signature Banking can help you concentrate on the financial well being of
your business. You receive benefits such as:                                                       Investment and Insurance Services
    • Business checking account with no monthly service charge1                                    Working with a specialist from one of our subsidiaries, you can do
                                                                                                   even more with your money and make sure your business is properly
    • Signature Banking MasterCard® Debit BusinessCard3
                                                                                                   protected.
    • Pre-approved $500 Business Cash Reserve line of credit with
                                                                                                       • Receive a UnionBanc Investment Services financial review so
      no annual fee4
                                                                                                         you can make the most of your investments.
Convenience Services                                                                                   • Get an insurance coverage review from a UBOC Insurance Services
    • Free online banking and Bill Payment through Internet Business                                     professional to make sure you have adequate coverage and protection.
      Banking5
    • Ability to download transactions to Quicken®, Microsoft® Money,                              To learn more about Signature Banking for your business, visit
      or QuickBooks® at no cost                                                                    unionbank.com/signaturebusiness or call 1.888.818.6060.

1                                                                                                  5
    Requires minimum combined balances of $100,000 or more, which can be maintained                    Other charges, such as Non-sufficient Available Funds and overdraft fees, will still apply.
    in a combination of qualifying accounts. Two business checking accounts are free of the        6
    regular monthly service charge. Other charges, such as overdraft fees, will still apply. Fee       This is not a commitment to lend. Financing subject to credit and any applicable collateral
    will apply for accounts closed within 90 days of opening. You may be assigned to another           approval. Lease financing subject to lessee credit approval, and vendor and equipment
    program or product if you no longer meet the minimum balance requirement of Priority               approval. Additional terms and conditions apply, including limitations on equipment type
    Banking. See our All About Business Accounts & Services Disclosure and Agreement                   and lease terms. Other restrictions may apply. Financing available to businesses located in
    for details.                                                                                       California, Oregon, or Washington. Terms and conditions subject to change.
                                                                                                   7
3
    Owners and operators of non-Union Bank ATMs may charge a fee for use of their ATMs.                Receive up to 1% off the standard posted interest rate on a new business loan and/or line
    Mini-statements available at Union Bank ATMs only.                                                 of credit based on 12-month average account balance(s) at time of application: 1/8% dis-
                                                                                                       count for balances of $10,000 to $24,999; 1/4% discount for balances of $25,000 to
4
    Higher credit lines are available with approved credit. Certain fees and other terms and           $50,000; 1/2% discount for balances of $50,001 to $99,999; and 1% discount for balances
    conditions apply, and are subject to change. See our Cash Reserve Account Agreement and            over $100,000. Discount not available on real estate or vehicle financing. The rate dis-
    Disclosure Statement for details.                                                                  count may be terminated if you no longer meet the minimum account balance require-
                                                                                                       ment of Signature Banking.




    P
        6
        A   G   E                                                                                                            W W W        .   C R L A         .   O R G
                                ABA Journal                                                                                    West declines to identify who brought allegations of
                                                                                                                               “irregularities” to the attention of his office. In an
                                                                                                                               interim report to the Subcommittee on Commercial
                                         CHICAGO, IL • FEBRUARY 2007                                                           and Administrative Law of the U.S. House Judiciary
                                                                                                                               Committee, West said that his office found evidence
                                                                                                                               that CRLA has violated federal laws governing the
                               A PRIVILEGE TO SERVE                                                                            work LSC grantees are allowed to undertake.
                      BATTLE OVER LEGAL AID FUNDS SPILLS OVER                                                                  Specifically, West said in the report, CRLA had
                         TO ATTORNEY CLIENT CONFIDENTIALITY                                                                    solicited clients, worked on a fee generating case,
                              By Margaret Graham Tebo                                                                          requested attorney fees in a successful lawsuit and
                                                                                                                               “associated with political activities.” All are pro-
                                                                                                                               hibited under federal law for grantees using LSC


A
        dispute between the Legal Services Corp.,             Left in a Bind                                                   funds. In 1996, Congress enacted reforms to
        the federal clearinghouse for funding legal           The question of whether federal statutes that apply              statutes governing LSC funding, specifically out-
        aid to indigents, and a legal aid office in           to LSC grantees take precedence over state privacy               lawing use of LSC money for most class actions.
California is testing the limits and definition of            laws and attorney client privilege puts CRLA lawyers             The changes target activities not directly related
attorney client privilege.                                    in a bind. If they comply voluntarily with the inspec-           to the representation of individual, identifiable
                                                              tor general’s request for information, they could risk           clients with specific legal causes of action against
California Rural Legal Assistance, based in San
                                                              disciplinary action by California bar authorities or             a particular opposing party. The amendments also
Francisco, is resisting a subpoena issued last fall by
                                                              even civil action for violating privacy laws.                    prohibit political activities, amicus briefs and
the LSC’s inspector general to turn over names of
                                                                                                                               monitoring private or governmental agencies for
clients and information about their cases.
                                                                           Based on the facts we saw,                          compliance with federal statutes.
It’s the latest salvo in a six year dispute between the
LSC and the California organization, which                                 we were deeply concerned                            In his report, West says he is still looking into alle-
                                                                                                                               gations of whether CRLA used LSC funds to engage
employs 53 lawyers in 22 offices around the state.                           that this appears to be                           in lobbying, employer monitoring, filing amicus
Like all LSC grantees, clients of California Rural
                                                                           a troubling intrusion by a                          briefs and filing cases on behalf of the “general pub-
Legal Assistance must meet income threshold
                                                                                                                               lic” under California unfair competition laws. While
requirements. Many work in the local farming and
ranching economy.
                                                                           Government Grant Agency.                            state law allows private civil actions on behalf of the
                                                                                                            - R. William Ide   general public in some circumstances, federal law
The LSC inspector general, Kirt West, says his                                                                                 prohibits use of LSC funds for such litigation.
office resorted to a subpoena only after repeatedly           Last spring, then ABA President Michael S. Greco of
                                                              Boston directed the Task Force on Attorney Client                In addition, West says he needs more information
failing in its attempts to get CRLA to voluntarily
                                                              Privilege to review the question of whether the                  to determine whether CRLA “disproportionately
provide the information as part of an audit. Citing
                                                              information is protected.                                        focuses its resources on farm worker and Latino
the investigation, he declined to say why his office
                                                                                                                               work, and, if so, whether such practice is inappro-
is seeking the information or what investigators
                                                              R. William Ide III of Atlanta, a former ABA presi-               priate for an LSC grantee.”
expect to find.
                                                              dent who chairs the task force, says he was dis-
The LSC says the information is not privileged,               turbed by what he sees as government intrusion                   “That’s Just the Way it Works”
and it is needed to show how the California                   into the relationship between attorneys and clients.             Padilla asserts that the last allegation is at the core
group uses the money it receives from the LSC.                                                                                 of the investigation. He says many ranchers in the
                                                              “Based on the facts we saw, we were deeply con-                  area employ both legal and illegal Hispanic labor-
Grantees must allow such audits in order to
                                                              cerned that this appears to be a troubling intrusion             ers, and the LSC may be trying to show that CRLA
receive funding from the congressionally char-
                                                              by a government grant agency,” says Ide. “Should                 has represented illegal workers. He also points
tered and funded LSC.
                                                              the states regulate lawyer ethics? Yes. Should a fed-            out that CRLA is aware that federal law prohibits
But CRLA Executive Director Jose Padilla says sen-            eral grant agency be able to say, ‘We gave you                   using LSC funds for such representation, and that
sitive client interests would be compromised by               money so we get to audit’? That’s a much different               care is taken to ensure named parties in labor law-
compliance with the subpoena, which seeks records             question.”                                                       suits are legal.
on nearly 40,000 clients from the last three years.
                                                              Deborah Hankinson, chair of the ABA Standing                                                      continues on back page
For example, he says, revealing names and case                Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants,
types would allow employers to find out who                   says the LSC’s audit authority doesn’t change the
has been seeking legal help on labor rights.                  nature of attorney client privilege for grantee organ-
Many employers would likely retaliate by firing               izations such as CRLA. She says clients should be
workers who cannot afford to lose their jobs,                 allowed to seek legal counsel in confidence without
says Padilla.                                                 worrying that even the fact of their meeting will be
                                                              revealed.
Other clients are victims of domestic violence who
may not have left abusive situations and whose                “In my view, there is no difference between this and
abusers could find out that they have sought legal            a private attorney being asked for information that
help, he adds.                                                compromises a client’s interests,” says Hankinson,
                                                              who heads her own law firm in Dallas.
“We are a professional law firm, and we have to pro-
tect our clients’ privacy rights,” Padilla says. “That’s      “The ABA has always stood for lawyers maintaining
an ethical duty of lawyers, and it’s a statutory              the highest ethical standards and not seeing them
requirement in California as well.” California’s strict       eroded as would happen here,” Hankinson says.
privacy laws prohibit agencies from revealing per-
                                                              Though West says he has no intention of sharing
sonal information without an individual’s consent.
                                                              the information outside of the LSC, he would not
Padilla says his counsel has determined that the
                                                              promise that his office would withhold the informa-
information sought by the LSC is protected by
                                                              tion if it were requested by Congress.
California law.
                                                              That troubles Padilla, who contends that the inves-
For his part, the LSC’s West says federal law gov-
                                                              tigation is a witch hunt prompted by local ranch
erns, allowing the LSC to audit grantees. West says
                                                              owners who vehemently oppose CRLA’s work to
his office needs the information to ensure that the
                                                              protect labor rights.
California group is using its grant money for the
purposes designated by Congress. West contends                    California Rural Legal Assistance Executive Director
that the information he seeks--primarily client                   Jose Padilla contends his organization is the target
names and case types--is not privileged.                          of a witch hunt. Photo by Melissa Barnes




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                                                                                                                                                                      A   G   E
                                                           CRL A OFFICES
A PRIVILEGE TO SERVE
                                                           CALIFORNIA RURAL LEGAL                       MARYSVILLE                                 SANTA BARBARA
continued from page 7
                                                           ASSISTANCE, INC.                             Lee Pliscou, Directing Attorney            Kirk Ah-Tye, Directing Attorney
“But when we win, and a rancher has to change              Jose R. Padilla, Executive Director          511 “D” Street                             324 E. Carrillo Street, Suite B
                                                           631 Howard Street, Suite 300                 P.O. Box 2600                              Santa Barbara, CA 93101
his ways, it benefits all of his workers, including                                                                                                (805) 963-5981
                                                           San Francisco, CA 94105-3907                 Marysville, CA 95901
the immigrants without papers. That’s just the             TEL (415) 777-2752 • FAX (415) 543-2752      (530) 742- 5191 • FAX ((530) 742-0421      FAX (805) 963-5984
way it works,” says Padilla.                               jpadilla@crla.org                            MODESTO                                    SANTA CRUZ
                                                           www.crla.org                                                                            Gretchen Regenhardt,
Padilla says the allegation smacks of interfering in                                                    Katie Hogan, Directing Attorney
                                                           COACHELLA                                    801 15th Street, Suite B                   Directing Attorney
his organization’s priority setting process. He wor-       Cristina Guerrero, Directing Attorney        Modesto, CA 95354                          501 Soquel Avenue, Suite D
ries that the information West’s office has request-                                                    (209) 577-3811                             Santa Cruz, CA 95062
                                                           1460 6th Street
                                                                                                        FAX (209) 577-1098                         (831) 458-1089
ed will be scrutinized in part based on the actual         P.O. Box 35
                                                                                                                                                   FAX (831) 458-1140
                                                           Coachella, CA 92236                      MONTEREY
or perceived ethnicity of the client a move he says        (760) 398-7264/7261 • FAX (760) 398-1050 Teri Scarlett, Directing Attorney              SANTA MARIA
has civil rights implications.                                                                                                                     Jeannie Barrett,
                                                           DELANO                                   2100 Garden Road #D                            Directing Attorney
Padilla also believes the inspector general is over-       Phoebe Seaton, Directing Attorney        Monterey, CA 93940                             2050 “G” South Broadway
                                                           629 Main Street                          (831) 375-0505                                 Santa Maria, CA 93454
reaching his authority with some of the allega-                                                     FAX (831) 375-0501
                                                           Delano, CA 93215                                                                        (805) 922-4563
tions. Federal laws are specific about forbidden           (661) 725-4350 9am-4pm                                                                  FAX (805) 928-0693
                                                                                                    OCEANSIDE
activities, he says, but some allegations in West’s        FAX (661) 725-1062                       Dorothy Johnson, Directing Attorney            SAN LUIS OBISPO
report seem to expand the definitions of what is           EL CENTRO                                    215 S. Coast Highway, Suite 201            Michael Blank, Directing Attorney
prohibited.                                                Arturo Rodriguez, Directing Attorney         Oceanside, CA 92054                        1160 Marsh Street, Suite 114
                                                           449 Broadway                                 (760) 966-0511 • FAX (760) 966-0291        San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
“We understand that we have to practice within             El Centro, CA 92243                          OXNARD, MIGRANT                            (805) 544-7997
certain restrictions, but there are enough restric-        (760) 353-0220 • FAX (760) 353-6914                                                     FAX (805) 544-3904
                                                                                                        Jeff Ponting, Directing Attorney
tions with?out the IG expanding the re?strictions          FRESNO                                       P.O. Box 1561                              PASO ROBLES
                                                           Alegria De La Cruz, Directing Attorney       Oxnard, CA 93032                           3350 Park Street
beyond his authority,” Padilla says.                                                                                                               Paso Robles, CA 93446
                                                           2115 Kern Street, Suite 370                  338 S. A Street
                                                           Fresno, CA 93721                             Oxnard, CA 93030                           (805) 239- 3708
West declines to be specific about the allegations                                                                                                 FAX (805) 239-4912
                                                           (559) 441-8721 • FAX (559) 441-8443          (805) 486-1068 • FAX (805) 483-0535
in his report.                                                                                                                                     SANTA ROSA
                                                           LAMONT                                       OXNARD, BASIC
“We will finish our investigation and make our                                                          Ronald Perry, Directing Attorney           Jeffrey Hoffman, Directing Attorney
                                                           9715 Main Street
                                                                                                                                                   725 Farmers Lane, #10 Bldg. B
recommendations for action, if any, to the LSC             Lamont, CA 93241                             338 South “A” Street
                                                                                                                                                   Santa Rosa, CA 95405
                                                           (661) 845-9066/4965                          Oxnard, CA 93030
board of directors. At that time, the information                                                       (805) 483-8083 • Fax (805) 483-0535
                                                                                                                                                   (707) 528-9941 • FAX (707) 528-0125
becomes public,” he says.                                  GILROY                                                                                  STOCKTON
                                                           Teri Scarlett, Directing Attorney            SALINAS, BASIC                             242 N. Sutter, Suite 411
The ABA’s Ide says CRLA has long established ABA           7365 Monterey Road, Suite H                  Teri Scarlett, Directing Attorney          Stockton, CA 95202
                                                           Gilroy, CA 95020                             3 Williams Road                            (209) 946- 0605 • FAX (209) 946-5730
policy on its side in the dispute over information         P.O. Box 1566                                Salinas, CA 93905
protected by the attorney client privilege.                (408) 847-1408 • FAX (408) 847-1463
                                                                                                                                                   WATSONVILLE
                                                                                                        (831) 757-5221 • FAX (831) 757-6212
                                                                                                                                                   Gretchen Regenhardt,
“The basic issue is that everyone is entitled to           MADERA                                       SALINAS, MIGRANT                           Directing Attorney
                                                           Baldwin Moy, Directing Attorney              Maria Mendoza, Directing Attorney          21 Carr Street
effective assistance of counsel,” says Ide, “and that                                                                                              Watsonville, CA 95076
                                                           117 South Lake Street                        3 Williams Road
can only happen where the nature of the represen-          Madera, CA 93638                             Salinas, CA 93905                          (831) 724-2253
tation is controlled by the attorney and the client,       (559) 674- 5671 • FAX (559) 674- 5674        (831) 757-5221 • FAX (831) 757-6212        FAX (831) 724-7530
not a federal agency. This audit request has a              CREDITS
potentially devastating chilling effect.”                   Design: Gino Squadrito, LaserCom Design | Printing: Trade Lithography | Photos by David Bacon and CRLA archives




                                                                                            San Francisco, CA 94105-390
                                                                                            631 Howard Street, Suite 300
 PERMIT NO. 1904                                                                            C A L I F O R N I A R U R A L L E G A L A S S I S TA N C E , I N C .
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                                                                                           CRLA NEWS
                                                                                                                                    IN THE




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                             working and living conditions faced by farm workers.                FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT CLAIRE RASÉ 415-777-2794 X309 OR AT CRASE@CRLA.ORG
                             more about our efforts to eliminate dangerous
                             Please visit www.agworkerhealth.org to learn
                                                                                                          SAN DIEGO, CA                           SAN FRANCISCO, CA
                                                                                                     NOVEMBER 2, 2007                            OCTOBER 14, 2007
                                and secure transportation for farm workers.
                                communities have access to safe drinking water
                                housing. AWHP also seeks to assure that rural
                                health and safety in the fields and in farm worker
                                The goal of AWHP is to improve farm worker

                                the Agricultural Worker Health Project (AWHP).
                                Foundation (CRLAF) have joined forces to create
                                CRLA and the California Rural Legal Assistance

 AG RIC U LTU RAL WORKE R H EALTH PROJ ECT!
   CRLA AND CRLAF ARE PROUD TO LAUNCH A NEW WEBSITE FOR THE                                        SAVE THE DATE                                                  TARDEADAS
                                                                                                                                                                     CRL A

				
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