There Is A Reason It Is Two Buck Chuck

Most of us are blissfully unaware of the human cost of what we consume – whether it be cheap food, cheap clothing or cheap wine.

I am guilty of it too – right now a bottle of Two Buck Chuck sits on my counter.

Knowing what I do today though, I don’t think I will be able to drink it.

Photo Credits

On May 16th 17 year old illegal immigrant Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez died. She had collapsed 2 days earlier after working 8 HOURS in the blistering heat tending vines for Merced Farm Labor, makers of Charles Shaw wine aka “Two Buck Chuck ” marketed by Trader Joe’s.

Vasquez Jimenez’s fiancé, Florentino Bautista, who was working with her, said temperatures reached more than 95 degrees on the day she collapsed. Workers had no shade, he said, no break long enough to go get water,* and no training to cope with heat.

He said it took 90 minutes to get Vasquez Jimenez to a clinic after she fell to the dirt in the field and that a foreman told him to tell clinic workers she became ill while exercising, not working.

Merced, not surprisingly, provides a different story and blames the delay in getting to the hospital on Bautista, however, it is not disputed that Maria was in a coma with a temperature of 108° when she was admitted. She was also 2 months pregnant.

Merced has been cited previously for failing to protect their workers. Cal-OSHA records reveal that Merced was cited in 2006 for “failing to provide employees with training to avoid heat stress” and “for not having an injury-prevention plan for its workers or enough toilets for them to use …” via The Modesto Bee

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a strong proponent of California’s heat laws – the strongest in the nation, attended Maria’s funeral and called her death “preventable.”

*Workers had no shade and were not permitted to take a long enough break to get to the nearest water cooler, a 10-minute walk away.

More information: NPR

Wikipepdia entry – Bronco Wines, including reference to Maria’s death.


United Farm Workers has a page where you can write a condolence note to Maria’s family.

American’s Friends Service League


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