Friday, May 7, 2010
The Colorado Farm Bureau Says
Protection of range workers not needed
Any time an all mighty interest group opposes discussion of those they ride herd over under guise the discussion is not needed, you can be discussion is badly needed. Did you get that?
The Colorado Immigrant’s Rights Coalition ( CIRC ) was a lead in advocating common sense discussion of the conditions of range workers.
A range worker is a person, often of Central and South American origin, who perches himself high in the mountains tending sheep. If you are a four wheel drive enthusiast or an alpine hiker you have likely seen some of our range workers in action. They often live in these little wagons, cooking on an outdoor fire. You can tell when they are home because there is usually a horse hobbled nearby, looking for the clover.
It seemed so romantic to me the first time I saw one of those wagons, I really wanted to try it. Besides riding a horse once or twice with an old girlfriend, we called her “dirty Mary”, I know nothing about livestock or horses. That would have been the first hurdle. I do know about camping as it is a life-love. Sleeping out under the stars, yes really, waking up in the wet dew of the morning, and smelling pungent sage, there is nothing like it! There is nothing like getting a hot shower a few days later, too!
That is when the balloon burst for me! It is a romantic lifestyle for awhile. After a “while” it becomes a tough life. Shitting over a log, or in a hole, trying to get wet wood to burn, or putting up with the fumes of a hot stove in the wagon, carrying water, makeshift food and sheer isolation all turn an adventure trip into a grind.
That is not the half of it. Many of our range workers are not fluent in English. They don’t understand the legal system they have gotten themselves into. They don’t understand how to ask for something as simple as a check. When they can’t control the H2B visa documents which allow them to work in the U.S. they can’t seek jobs in kinder surroundings. In addition to being isolated on a hill, they are isolated from society. They are so high up in the mountains something as simple as calling home can be a major ordeal.
Representatives from CIRC were disappointed. They said, "The Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition is disappointed by the defeat of HB 1407 today. We entered this process wanting to have a conversation with the herding industry that employs Colorado's range workers, to discuss potential issues and arrive at common solutions. Instead, the herding industry backed out on their commitment to an even-handed, balanced conversation.
All the bill proposed to do was create a commission. The commission could review living and working conditions of the range workers and make suggestions. The wording and provisions of the law were crafted by the herding industry. It was better for the industry to police itsself than have intervention from outside entities. Eventually, the plight of poor people will catch regulator attention and those who went along with the Farm Bureau today may wish this had been done in-house.
CIRC says, “the industry acted in bad faith, backing out of commitments and ultimately appearing to oppose this bill. We are left wondering: when an industry opposes an open, well-balanced conversation, what is really going on?