United Farm Workers & Union March: Soles for SB 126

Reminiscent of Cesar Chavez’s 300 mile pilgrimage from Delano to Sacramento in 1966, more than 5,000 farmworkers, their families, and supporters marched the final steps of a 13-day, 167 miles pilgrimage through California’s Central Valley, to the north steps of the capitol on Sunday, September 4, 2011.  The farmworker’s call to action is for Governor Jerry Brown to sign SB 126, a bill that would make it easier for farm workers to join unions and speak up for fair labor rights. 

Si Se Puede! Today’s March is reminiscent of Cesar Chavez pilgrimage to the capitol in 1966. – September 4, 2011

The last leg of the walk for civil liberties in Sacramento began at Southside Park at 10am and ended with an urging of support for Governor Brown to sign the bill that is making its way through the California Legislature.

March preparations at Southside Park – September 4, 2011

SB 126 penned by Senator Darrell Steinberg includes a revised version of the Fair Treatment for Farm Workers Act (SB 104), a bill that would have made it easier for farm workers to join a union and speak up for their rights, previously vetoed by Gov. Brown and legislation to would allow farm workers the right to be paid overtime after 8 hours of work per day.

This comes at a time when safety conditions for the state’s nearly 400,000 agricultural workers who spend long days in the hot sun each summer to harvest fruits and vegestables is at its worst.  At least 16 California farm workers have suffered from heat related deaths since 2005 and State Division of Occupational Safety and Health is investigating two other California farm worker deaths – one in April in Imperial County and one in June in Riverside County.

Si Se Puede! Fair Treatment for Farm Workers Now! – Sept 4,2011

Francisco Estrada, a migrant farm worker recalls the last day of his wife’s life, Lillia Estrada while working in the farms. “She complained of dizziness. The ambulance did not come until an hour later”, a translator noted in Spanish. “We came in as two and I came out as one.” There is not a day that passes where he does not think of his wife and the two sons she has left behind.

“There will come a day, when farmworker rights will be left at the hands of our children,” Becky Chavez, the daughter of Richard "Ricardo" Chavez urged in her speech.

The philosophy of The United Farm Workers, brothers Richard "Ricardo" Chavez and Ceasar Chavez’s legacy continues. The movement behind the Delano Grape Strike of 1966 still continues. Equity has not been reached for low paid workers as long as the struggle by farm workers continue.

Watch the her very moving speech by clicking here.

Today, unions appear to be the vehicle of choice to level the playing field for low paid workers otherwise deemed silent.  Fewer than 5% of the farm workers have the protection of union contracts. A day before labor day, the walk is symbolic of those farm workers who continue to struggle for their rights to unionize and receive equitable labor practices.

Organizers say they want Americans to know that the fresh food we take for granted on our tables were hand picked by human hands. 

"My grandparents were farm workers.  My dad started out working in the fields.  I’m here because I understand the importance of these jobs especially for immigrants and their families.  These are hard jobs and the people who work these jobs…deserve more protection, " urged Rebecca Gutierrez, 23 a student from Fresno State. 

 

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September 5, 2011 | 1:10 AM

Correction to the article above regarding the daughter of the late co-founder Richard Chavez.
The person speaking is not Dorothy Huerta. She is Becky Chavez the daughter of the late Richard “Ricardo” Chavez, brother of Cesar Chavez.
Ricardo Chavez, Cesar Chavez,
PRESENTE!

September 6, 2011 | 2:09 PM

Thank you for bringing this to our attention, Yoserna1. We have updated the article to reflect this information!

September 5, 2011 | 8:18 AM

And that’s what the UFW is becoming; a protection racket. Farmworkers already have the same protections to unionize as does the rest of California residents. The UFW wants an extra incentive to force them into the union.
I’d love it if the farmworkers would stage a boycott of those evil farms that abuse them. Then California and the US might have a chance to get back on a proper footing without the corruption of mexican influence in politics, and cheap labor in the fields.

September 5, 2011 | 3:23 PM

FGCh nicely sums up the essence of the UFW extortion racket in 8 easy steps.

1) First an insult (sun don’t shine)
2) Then a class warfare incitment (you must be a grower/labor contractor)
3) Then a claim of the exceptionalism (people that put fresh fruti on your table)
4) Then a rather bizarre ethnic insult (use of “s” in a latino surname)
5) Then a bit of clinging to the union successes of the 19th century (8 hr workday)
6) Then another class warfare incitement (live of your investments)
7) Then another cling to 19th century union success (8 hr workday)
8) Then another insult (scab)

September 5, 2011 | 2:51 PM

That’s a good little dupe. Indeed. Did you know Ceasar Chavez was THE original Minuteman? He loathed illegal aliens undercutting wages for him and his workers. But somewhere along the way “La Causa” of better wages and working conditions got hijacked by “La Raza” of simply importing a larger underclass with which certain political figures could make mischief.

September 6, 2011 | 5:09 PM

I am not a grower or labor contractor, and I do have compassion for hard working people; American hard working people. These blasted foreign imported farmworkers have been a constant thorn in the side of hardworking California citizens, AND the real family farmers and ranchers who have been driven under by the willingness of lowballing mexicans and other latin american workers who have no respect for themselves, or the laws of this nation, to work for nothing wages, and then supplement it with the services that we are being forced to pay for. If they don’t like the conditions, Hit the road. I’m not against unions; just against corruption. Here in America, we encourage individualism and personal strength. In contrast, the UFW is telling these workers they are nothing without the union, and will be nothing without the union.

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