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The Truth Behind Miami's Controversial New Heat Ordinance

From episode: EP44: Miami Dade's New HEAT ORDINANCE can Break the Green Industry

Willie: Today's podcast is very important and we have two very important individuals here that know way too much about this topic. And they're going to be talking about everything that you need to know, whether you know about the heat ordinance or not. You're going to want to listen to this because they have a lot of information. These are the two individuals that are on the forefront of what this is and how this can affect just nursery growers. It's basically agriculture, horticulture, and construction. What you need to know for the employer, for the landlord, for your partner, for your coworker, and for the employees. We're going to be diving in. I'm going to let them introduce themselves. We're going to start off with you, madam. Ariana Cabrera de Oña

Arianna: Hello. My name is Ariana Cabrera de Oña. I am the Senior Vice President, Chief People Officer, and General Counsel for Costa Farms, which is just a long -winded way of saying I manage people and legal for Costa Farms. I've been with Costa Farms and this industry for 17 years.

Willie :17 years. So you're passionate about the industry.

Arianna: I really am.

Willie: And you know a little bit about it.

Arianna: I know a little bit about it.

Willie: And you're my friend?

Barney: Yes. I'm Barney Rutske. I've been in the industry my entire life. My family moved here in 1907 from vegetable farming to tropical fruit farming, now in the nursery industry. And I've worked in all aspects of agriculture from the fields to management to mechanicing in the shops so I can understand the heat and all the aspects of it also.

Willie: Yeah, 100 percent.

Barney: I'm also President of the Dade County Farm Bureau here and Vice President of Dade County FNGLA Chapter. And I'm on the Ag Practice Board, which is an advisory board for Miami -Dade County on ag issues. And I'm on the Trec Tropical Research and Education Board Advisory Board also.

Willie: And Trec is with UF, the University of Florida. Yeah, if you guys don't know what that is. So you're on a couple boards.

Barney: Yes.

Willie: Just a few.

Barney: Yes.

Willie: Congratulations.

Arianna: Told you he knows a lot.

Willie: Congratulations. You guys are awesome. I'm very glad you guys are here today. So I want to start off, guys, we're going to be breaking it down into four categories. How did this ordinance come about? What has been proposed in the ordinance? How can this affect our listeners, our people in the industry down here in these three categories in Miami -Dade County? And what can people do today? So let's start. I wanted to start with how did this come to pass? How did we get here? If you can enlighten everyone on that.

Arianna: So this is a heat ordinance proposed in Miami -Dade County. There was a heat ordinance that was proposed several months back by a different commissioner. And once we were able to have some good conversations about, you know, our practices and the fact that OSHA already governs heat standards.

Willie: Excuse me, OSHA for you guys, just so you know, is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Arianna Correct.

Arianna: Part of the Department of Labor. It's a federal agency. So once we had those conversations, the heat ordinance, you know, they realized that there was no need for it and it went away. Very quietly, a new heat ordinance was proposed late in the summer. And it was proposed by Commissioner McGhee and Commissioner Bastien, they're the prime co -sponsors on this. And as soon as we in agriculture found out what, you know, that this had been proposed and it was actually much worse even than a California -style heat ordinance. Once we found that it had been proposed, we mobilized through Farm Bureau, through FNGLA and a few of us from Costa Farms to go start talking to commissioners to ensure that they knew what was in it. I know we're going to talk in a minute. We're going to talk about what's in it exactly. But just to kind of give you some of the history on here, honestly, and you know, Barney can back me up on this. We were not able to get in front of commissioners to have these discussions. We would call and make appointments with their offices. And nine times out of 10, we met with staff who were great and very knowledgeable and, you know, open to hearing what we had to say, but we never had a chance to speak to commissioners. And that's important because one of the things that just blows my mind with all of this is that in the ordinance itself, in the proposed ordinance, in one of the whereas clauses, which is, you know, legal jargon for their explanation as to why we need it, they cited a study that had been conducted by WeCount, which is a local labor activist organization. And in that study, they cited the need for this heat ordinance based on 11 interviews that were conducted in 2015 and 300 surveys that were conducted in 2016. Okay.

Willie: Okay. And these were by people in agriculture, horticulture, construction?

Arianna: They were actually all people in horticulture specifically. In horticulture. In horticulture specifically. So they released a study back in 2018. And again, and I'm emphasizing this because - It's a long time ago. It's a long time ago. Yeah. And although, you know, they try to be very slick about it and they say, oh, you know, yeah, so it's 4-5 years ago. No, no. 7 and 8 years ago, respectively, we're talking about. So all of this ordinance and all of this concern was based on very old data that did not take into consideration current conditions, current practices, and any of the current oversight that we as in the agriculture and horticulture industry have.


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