Amid wildfires, U.S. farmworkers labor with few protections

The smoky air was so thick in southern Oregon recently, it was like a dense fog. People up and down the West Coast stayed inside their homes as wildfires burned, spewing massive plumes of smoke and toxic ash.

In hard-hit parts of Washington, Oregon, and California, the only people outside were those who had to be. That included farmworkers, tending to everything from almond orchards to cattle and vineyards.

Even during the smokiest days of September, Maricela, 48, continued working her typical eight-hour shifts at a vineyard in southern Oregon. The air burned her eyes and throat, she said.


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