Can you hear them?
This International Women’s Day, our team is honoring courageous migrant worker women who stand up for their right to a safe workplace. But who are the women willing to blow the whistle?
Today, we’re thinking of Mariel, a Mexican veterinarian hired to work in an Oklahoma hog farm under the TN visa program. Upon arrival, she realized that her job would be far from what she was promised. Every day, she endured workplace conditions that put her personal safety at risk.
“Whenever I’d complain about unsafe conditions — from not having proper gloves to not knowing I was handling a tank with toxic substances — they’d tell me that I should be grateful to work in the U.S. But I came to work with dignity,” says Mariel.
One day, while trying to meet her daily quota of castrating 400 pigs, Mariel suffered a collarbone injury. She had to wait 4 hours for medical assistance to arrive. When she returned to work, she was forced to perform jobs that made her condition worse. Despite Mariel’s repeated requests, the company refused to put safeguards in place to protect her.
Now, our legal team has supported Mariel in filing a whistleblower complaint to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), claiming that her employer retaliated against her when she stood up for her right to a safe workplace.
Workplace safety is a pressing issue for migrant workers, who often work in high-risk industries, with hazardous substances and without adequate training or protective equipment. Stories like Mariel’s are far too common: employers frequently retaliate when workers speak out about unsafe conditions. Whistleblower protections are meant to encourage workers like Mariel to stand up for their rights — and their colleagues’.
Mariel is determined to speak out: “If we remain silent, abusive behavior will continue. Employers need to see us standing up for our rights. If I raise my voice, I can prevent someone else from going through the same abuse I faced.”
In the last couple of weeks, CDM has filed three whistleblower complaints with OSHA.We hope this sends a message: employers cannot get away with silencing workers who fight for justice.
Today, we honor the women who dare to blow the whistle. The bravery of workers like Mariel energizes our fight to change the balance of power.