FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 06, 2016
Emmanuelle "Neza" Leal
Over 100 Dairy Workers, Faith and Community Leaders Gathered to Remember Portales Worker Killed At Local Dairy Farm; Pray For the Safety of All Workers
PORTALES, NM--Yesterday, over 100 dairy workers, their families and local faith leaders held a candlelight vigil to remember Luis Almader, a long-time resident of Portales and dairy worker who lost his life as a result of an accident at the J-Lu Dairy Farm. The vigil was held in front of the courthouse on Labor Day, a day when our community celebrates the contributions all workers make to our economy.
"My dad had a heart of gold," said Erika Navarrete, Mr. Almader's daughter who spoke at the vigil. "He was a seasoned dairy worker who worked very hard to provide a better life for his family."
According to Navarrete, her father was crushed by the 2,000 pound bucket of a malfunctioning loader in late July.
"He complained about that machine months before the accident," explained Navarrete. "This could have been prevented, that is why we are sharing our story because no one should go through what our family is going through."
Other dairy workers and faith leaders expressed their support.
"Now more than ever it's important that we support each other as dairy workers," said Leoncio Gonzalez, a dairy worker and member of Somos Portales. "We all know that this could happen to any one of us, that is why we are coming together, that is why we are organizing and that is why we are working to make sure this does not happen again."
"We are mourning the loss of a father, a grandfather and a worker who fought for his rights and for the rights of other workers," said Pastor Jorge Medina from Iglesia Apostolica en Fe de Cristo Jesus in Portales, whose congregation includes many dairy workers and their families. "And we are also reminded of the great risk many in our community face when they go to work, we will continue praying and working so that no one else loses their life."
In June, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that farm and ranch laborers, including dairy workers, are entitled to Workers' Compensation insurance protection delivering a win for these workers who had previously been excluded from such protections.
Dairy workers play a crucial role in our state's economy. New Mexico ranks 9th in milk production across the country and counts on 175 dairy farms with each farm averaging 3,000 cows and only 20 workers.
The candlelight vigil was sponsored by St. Helen Catholic Church (Portales), Iglesia Apostolica de Fe en Cristo Jesus (Clovis & Portales), Fundacion de Fe (Portales), Immaculate Conception Catholic Church (Dexter), the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, Somos Clovis and Somos Portales of Somos Un Pueblo Unido.
Somos Un Pueblo Unido is a statewide immigrant-led civil and worker's rights organization with membership teams in ten counties and offices in Santa Fe and Roswell.