Picking strawberries is tedious, backbreaking work. But when the Camarillo Springs wildfire filled the sky with smoke and ash last Thursday, farm laborers found that their already difficult job felt impossible to do safely.

The conditions made breathing difficult for at least 15 workers at Crisalida Farms in Oxnard, Calif. -- just 11 miles south of Camarillo. But when they decided to seek shelter indoors from the wildfire's smoke, laborers had to make a choice between their health or their job.

"The ashes were falling on top of us," said one worker to NBC LA in the video above. "[But] they told us if we leave, there would be no job to return to."

True to the foreman's word, when the laborers returned to work the next day, they found out they'd all been fired. That's when the United Farm Workers union stepped in.

Even though none of the laborers were union members, they reached out to UFW rep Lauro Barrajas for help. Barrajas met with the farm's upper management and reminded them of this old union rule: “No worker shall work under conditions where they feel his life or health is in danger."

Watch the video above or click over to NBC LA to find out what Barrajas was able to win back for the workers.

The Camarillo Springs wildfire ended up scorching about 44 square miles of land and still is not completely contained six days later.

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  • Early Southern California Wildfires Threaten Area

    MALIBU, CA - MAY 04: A firefighter keeps a lookout for hot spots in the charred landscape around a home which escaped damage from the Springs wildfire in Deer Creek on May 4, 2013 in Malibu, California. Nearly 1,000 firefighters continue to battle wind and dry conditions with over 28,000 acres burned and only 20% containment. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

  • Early Southern California Wildfires Threaten Area

    CAMARILLO, CA - MAY 4: A column of elite U.S. Forest Service Hotshot firefighters walk along the edge of the black near Hidden Valley at the Springs fire on May 4, 2013 near Camarillo, California. Improving weather conditions are helping firefighters get the upper hand on the wildfire which has grown to 28,000 acres and is now 56 percent contained. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

  • Crews work on the fire line after a wildfire near Point Mugu, Calif., Saturday, May 4, 2013. High winds and withering hot, dry air was replaced by the normal flow of damp air off the Pacific, significantly reducing fire activity. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Hand crews work on the fire line after a wildfire near Point Mugu, Calif., Saturday, May 4, 2013. On Saturday, high winds and withering hot, dry air were replaced by the normal flow of damp air off the Pacific, significantly reducing fire activity. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • This satellite photo released by NOAA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, showing a stream of smoke clearly visible moving west over the ocean, as are the heat signatures from the active fires areas. A Southern California wildfire carving a path to the sea grew to more than 15 square miles and crews prepared Friday for another bad day of gusting winds and searing weather. (AP Photo/NOAA via NASA)

  • Members of handcrew take a rest along a hillside in Hidden Valley, Calif., Saturday, May 4, 2013. High winds and withering hot, dry air was replaced by the normal flow of damp air off the Pacific, significantly reducing fire activity. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Members of handcrew take a rest along a hillside in Hidden Valley, Calif., Saturday, May 4, 2013. High winds and withering hot, dry air was replaced by the normal flow of damp air off the Pacific, significantly reducing fire activity. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Firefighters take a rest along a hillside in Hidden Valley, Calif., Saturday, May 4, 2013. High winds and withering hot, dry air was replaced by the normal flow of damp air off the Pacific, significantly reducing fire activity. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Early Southern California Wildfire Threatens Homes

    NEWBURY PARK, CA - MAY 03: Wildfire charges back up from Sycamore Canyon inside Pt. Mugu State Park after changing winds on May 3, 2013 in Newbury Park, California. Hundreds of firefighters are battling wind and dry conditions with over 10,000 acres already burned. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

  • A firefighter stands watch as the smoke rises from the burnt area in Hidden Valley, Calif., Saturday, May 4, 2013. High winds and withering hot, dry air was replaced by the normal flow of damp air off the Pacific, significantly reducing fire activity. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Early Southern California Wildfire Threatens Homes

    NEWBURY PARK, CA - MAY 03: A park ranger looks on as wildfire charges back up from Sycamore Canyon inside Pt. Mugu State Park after changing winds on May 3, 2013 in Newbury Park, California. Hundreds of firefighters are battling wind and dry conditions with over 10,000 acres already burned. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

  • Early Southern California Wildfire Threatens Homes

    NEWBURY PARK, CA - MAY 03: A Ventura County Fire Department helicopter heads to make a water drop on the wildfire in Pt. Mugu State Park on May 3, 2013 in Newbury Park, California. Hundreds of firefighters continue to battle wind and dry conditions with over 10,000 acres burned. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

  • US-CALIFORNIA-FIRE

    A rabbit runs from a wildfire burning along the Pacific Coast Highway near Point Mugu State Park in Ventura County, California, on May 3, 2013. Some 4,000 homes were threatened by a growing wildfire northwest of Los Angeles that has forced the closure of California's scenic coastal highway, firefighters said Friday. (ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A firefighter from Huntington beach works to extinguish a brush at Point Mugu Friday, May 3, 2013. A Southern California wildfire carving a path to the sea grew to more than 15 square miles and crews prepared Friday for another bad day of gusting winds and searing weather. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

  • A brush fire burns a sign at a shooting range on the beach at Navel Base Ventura County on Friday, May 3, 2013. Santa Ana winds that sent a Southern California wildfire barreling to the sea have died but flames are still running through coastal canyons, threatening scattered homes and wilderness. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

  • A cameraman records the wildfire burning along the Pacific Coast Highway near Ventura, Calif., at Point Mugu Friday, May 3, 2013. The 15 1/2-square-mile blaze was only 10 percent contained on Friday, and the work of more than 900 firefighters, aided by air tankers, was just beginning. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • A cameraman records the wildfire burning along the Pacific Coast Highway near Ventura, Calif., at Point Mugu Friday, May 3, 2013. The 15 1/2-square-mile blaze was only 10 percent contained on Friday, and the work of more than 900 firefighters, aided by air tankers, was just beginning. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Flame and smoke rise from The Naval Base at Point Mugu, Calif., Friday, May 3, 2013. The 15 1/2-square-mile blaze was only 10 percent contained on Friday, and the work of more than 900 firefighters, aided by air tankers, was just beginning. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Firefighters keep watch the wildfire in the Naval Base at Point Mugu, Calif., Friday, May 3, 2013. The 15 1/2-square-mile blaze was only 10 percent contained on Friday, and the work of more than 900 firefighters, aided by air tankers, was just beginning. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Firefighters in the fire engineer keep watch over the wildfire at Point Mugu, Calif., Friday, May 3, 2013. The 15 1/2-square-mile blaze was only 10 percent contained on Friday, and the work of more than 900 firefighters, aided by air tankers, was just beginning. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Flame and smoke are reflected at a traffic mirror along a hillside at Point Mugu, Calif., Friday, May 3, 2013. The 15 1/2-square-mile blaze was only 10 percent contained on Friday, and the work of more than 900 firefighters, aided by air tankers, was just beginning. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • A firefighter battles the wildfire near the farmland along a hillside in Point Mugu , Calif. Friday, May 3, 2013. A huge wildfire carved a path to the sea and burned on the beach Friday, but firefighters got a break as gusty winds turned into breezes. Temperatures remained high, but humidity levels were expected to soar as cool air moved in from the ocean and the Santa Ana winds retreated. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Firefighters work on the burned area along the PCH, in Point Mugu, Calif., Friday, May 3, 2013. A huge wildfire carved a path to the sea and burned on the beach Friday, but firefighters got a break as gusty winds turned into breezes. Temperatures remained high, but humidity levels were expected to soar as cool air moved in from the ocean and the Santa Ana winds retreated. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • A firefighter sets a backfire to protect the farmland along a hillside in Point Mugu , Calif. Friday, May 3, 2013. Firefighters got a break as gusty winds turned into breezes, but temperatures remained high and humidity levels are expected to soar as cool air moved in from the ocean and the Santa Ana winds retreated. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Flame engulf around a hillside in Point Mugu , Calif. Friday, May 3, 2013. Firefighters got a break as gusty winds turned into breezes, but temperatures remained high and humidity levels are expected to soar as cool air moved in from the ocean and the Santa Ana winds retreated. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • A fire burns around lemon trees at a farmland along a hillside in Point Mugu, Calif., Friday, May 3, 2013. Firefighters got a break as gusty winds turned into breezes, but temperatures remained high and humidity levels are expected to soar as cool air moved in from the ocean and the Santa Ana winds retreated. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • A firefighter extinguishes the wildfire along a hillside in Point Mugu, Calif., Friday, May 3, 2013. Firefighters got a break as gusty winds turned into breezes, but temperatures remained high and humidity levels are expected to soar as cool air moved in from the ocean and the Santa Ana winds retreated. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • A firefighter watches a wildfire along a hillside in Point Mugu , Calif. Friday, May 3, 2013. Firefighters got a break as gusty winds turned into breezes, but temperatures remained high and humidity levels are expected to soar as cool air moved in from the ocean and the Santa Ana winds retreated. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Fire trucks keep an eye on a burned structure at the Naval Base Ventura County (NBVC) at Point Mugu, Calif., Friday, May 3, 2013. The 15 1/2-square-mile blaze was only 10 percent contained on Friday, and the work of more than 900 firefighters, aided by air tankers, was just beginning. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

  • A resident waters the burned area next to his home in Point Mugu, Calif., Friday, May 3, 2013. A huge wildfire carved a path to the sea and burned on the beach Friday, but firefighters got a break as gusty winds turned into breezes. Temperatures remained high, but humidity levels were expected to soar as cool air moved in from the ocean and the Santa Ana winds retreated. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

  • Firefighters from Riverside, Calif. work to extinguish a brush fire at Point Mugu, Calif., Friday, May 3, 2013. A Southern California wildfire carving a path to the sea grew to more than 15 square miles and crews prepared Friday for another bad day of gusting winds and searing weather. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

  • A firefighter carries tools down a burned hill after a wildfire in Point Mugu on Friday, May 3, 2013. A huge wildfire carved a path to the sea and burned on the beach Friday, but firefighters got a break as gusty winds turned into breezes. Temperatures remained high, but humidity levels were expected to soar as cool air moved in from the ocean and the Santa Ana winds retreated. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

  • Wildfires burn close in to homes in Point Mugu, Calif., Friday, May 3, 2013. A huge wildfire carved a path to the sea and burned on the beach Friday, but firefighters got a break as gusty winds turned into breezes. Temperatures remained high, but humidity levels were expected to soar as cool air moved in from the ocean and the Santa Ana winds retreated. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

  • A bulldozer clears a firebreak near a wildfire burning along a hillside near homes in Thousand Oaks, Calif., Thursday, May 2, 2013. A Ventura County Fire Department spokeswoman said the blaze that broke out Thursday morning near Camarillo and Thousand Oaks, 50 miles west of Los Angeles, had spread to over 6,500 acres, forcing evacuations of nearby neighborhoods. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Smoke and fire billows over a hill near Thousand Oaks, Calif. on Thursday, May 2, 2013. Authorities have ordered evacuations of a neighborhood and a university about 50 miles west of Los Angeles where a wildfire is raging close to subdivisions. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

  • Residents watch as a wildfire burns on a hill near Thousand Oaks, Calif. on Thursday, May 2, 2013. A wildfire fanned by gusty Santa Ana winds raged along the fringes of Southern California communities on Thursday, forcing evacuation of homes and a university while setting recreational vehicles ablaze. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

  • Firefighters from Glendale, Calif., and Pasadena, Calif., stand watch as bulldozers clear a firebreak near a wildfire burning along a hillside near homes in Thousand Oaks, Calif., Thursday, May 2, 2013. A Ventura County Fire Department spokeswoman said the blaze that broke out Thursday morning near Camarillo and Thousand Oaks, 50 miles west of Los Angeles, had spread to over 6,500 acres, forcing evacuations of nearby neighborhoods. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • A farm worker watches the flames and smoke rise from a chemical storage tanks near a strawberry farm in Camarillo, Calif., Thursday, May 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Firefighters douse a burned area along the hillside near the student dorm of California State University, Channel Islands in Camarillo, Calif., Thursday, May 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • A helicopter makes a water drop on a hotspot over a hill near Thousand Oaks, Calif. on Thursday, May 2, 2013. Authorities have ordered evacuations of a neighborhood and a university about 50 miles west of Los Angeles where a wildfire is raging close to subdivisions. The blaze on the fringes of Camarillo and Thousand Oaks broke out Thursday morning and was quickly spread by gusty Santa Ana winds. Evacuation orders include California State University, Channel Islands. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

  • A helicopter makes a water drop on a hotspot over a hill near Thousand Oaks, Calif. on Thursday, May 2, 2013. Authorities have ordered evacuations of a neighborhood and a university about 50 miles west of Los Angeles where a wildfire is raging close to subdivisions. The blaze on the fringes of Camarillo and Thousand Oaks broke out Thursday morning and was quickly spread by gusty Santa Ana winds. Evacuation orders include California State University, Channel Islands. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

  • Residents watch a a helicopter drop water during a wildfire that burned several thousand acres, Thursday, May 2, 2013, in Ventura County, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Firefighters clean up a hotspot burning over a hill near Thousand Oaks, Calif., on Thursday, May 2, 2013. The blaze erupted during morning rush hour along U.S. 101 in the Camarillo area about 50 miles west of Los Angeles. It quickly charred more than 10 square miles because of winds that have also pushed other damaging blazes across the region. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

  • Firefighter looks on as fire burns behind homes during a wildfire that burned several thousand acres, Thursday, May 2, 2013, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Smoke billows from a fire burring in Point Mugu State Park during a wildfire that burned several thousand acres, Thursday, May 2, 2013, in Ventura County, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Firefighters work at a burned area on a hillside during a wildfire in Camarillo, Calif., Thursday, May 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Residents watch an air tanker drop fire retardant during a wildfire that burned several thousand acres, Thursday, May 2, 2013, in Ventura County, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Flames and smoke rise from chemical storage tanks near a strawberry farm in Camarillo, Calif., Thursday, May 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Farmers keep working as a wildfire on a hill burns in the background in Camarillo, Calif., Thursday, May 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • A photographer takes photos as flames and smoke rise from chemical storage tanks near a strawberry farm in Camarillo, Calif., Thursday, May 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Smoke billows from a fire burring in Point Mugu State Park during a wildfire that burned several thousand acres, Thursday, May 2, 2013, in Ventura County, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)