UFW Marching for a Voice - NBC Bay Area

UFW Marching for a Voice

Farm workers on 13 day journey to state capital.



    Farm workers on 13 day journey to Sacramento. (Published Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2011)

    Last year, they rallied at the San Jose Labor Temple, spending a fall weekend getting out the vote for Jerry Brown, who was a candidate for governor.    

    On Wednesday, the United Farm Workers woke up to a morning mass off Highway 99.
     They’re on a 13-day march to the steps of the state capital.

    Only this time, they’re protesting against Gov. Jerry Brown.

    In June, Brown vetoed  SB104, which would have made it easer for farm workers to unionize.

    “We were disappointed,” said Arturo Rodriguez. Rodriguez is the President of the UFW.

    “We worked very hard to elect Governor Jerry Brown. We thought he would be sensitive to the needs of farm workers, to the problems farm workers face every day,” said Rodriguez on Tuesday morning in Merced, the first leg of the UFW’s 13-day march.

    SB104 is being introduced in Sacramento with a few changes.

    And another bill would allow farm workers to earn overtime for working more than 8 hours.

     That is not the case today.

    Rodriguez says farm worker safety is another concern.

    “Sixteen farm workers have died over the last 6 years because of heat stress in the fields. The state is investigating already two more deaths this year. So those are major problems farm workers face every summer,” said Rodriguez.

    Governor Brown’s office did not return emails from NBC Bay Area requesting comment about the UFW action.

    After the veto, Brown said he didn’t feel such a bill was necessary.

    Brown was a friend of UFW founder Cesar Chavez, who helped Brown during his first stint as governor, form the California Labor Relations Board.

    This is not the first time the UFW has used Highway 99 to draw attention to their work.
    Chavez used the same path first in 1968 to garner support for the farm worker movement.

    Now they’re back along the hot, dusty corridor that leads to the state capitol, hoping someone inside the majestic building will open the door, and listen.