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by Tom Louie
Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2002 at 5:54 PM
You can do something RIGHT NOW to improve working conditions and the standard of living of the people whose hands harvest your food!
Here's your chance to actually do something that will directly help the working poor!
Right now, 5,000 farm workers and their friends are camped outside the state Capitol, demanding that Governor Gray Davis sign SB 1736, a bill that will require arbitration when contract negotiations between laborers and agricultural employers are stalled.
Since 1975, when California first recognized farm labor unions, workers at different farms throughout the state have voted 428 times to recognize the United Farm Workers as their bargaining representative, and yet only 158 of those elections have actually led to labor contracts, largely due to delaying tactics, stalling and bad-faith negotiations on the part of the agricultural industry.
To make matters worse, farms that once had labor contracts, like PictSweet Mushrooms, have let their contracts expire and are resisting any new negotiations (hence the PictSweet boycott).
This state of affairs is SHAMEFUL, and SB 1736 would take real steps toward making things better.
Unfortunately, there is a very real danger that Governor Davis will veto the bill, because he doesn't want to piss off the agricultural interests who have contributed to his campaign. Yes, that is a sad commentary on the influence of money in politics.
Fortunately, we can use hard politics as a countermeasure against that. The farmworkers who just walked 150 miles to the Capitol want the governor to know that his political career will be over if he puts money over people. Davis was elected with the help of liberals and labor supporters, and we have to make him MORE afraid of pissing off the people than pissing off agribiz.
The working people are not alone on this one. They are being accompanied in their Capitol vigil by Hollywood stars and politicians, including Davis' own running mate, Lieutenant Governor Bustamante. Not to mention Cesar Chavez' children and grandchildren, and the legendary Dolores Huerta, who co-founded the union with Chavez and accompanied him on the FIRST march to Sacramento, back in 1966.
(For those of you engaged in the struggle against GW Bush, please remember that Dolores Huerta was savagely beaten by the San Francisco cops outside a campaign appearance by the Bush the First in 1988. She was a 58-year-old grandmother at the time -- she's 72 now. She was gravely injured and her spleen had to be removed, with effects on her health that have lasted to this day. Last year, her health had deteriorated to the point where she almost died. The Bushes ruined her life in addition to many others, so ONE GOOD WAY TO SAY "FUCK YOU" TO BUSH IS TO SUPPORT THE FARMWORKERS.)
There is no place for the governor to hide. The working people actually have a real, concrete chance of a victory here.
Farm workers generally earn less than ,000 a year. Farm jobs are exhausting, repetitive and sometimes dangerous. Think about this one, fellow activists: how could YOU support a family on less than ,000 a year, and with no medical benefits to boot? If you knew someone who were in that situation, wouldn't you do something to help them, or at least show your solidarity with them????
Go to http://www.ufw.org to find out how you can help, or go directly to http://www.unionvoice.org/campaign/SB_1736_Gov1 to email the governor directly.
¡SÍ, SE PUEDE!!!!!!!!
(P.S.: I don't care if you're someone who doesn't believe in voting, or legislation, or government, or "bureaucratic" unions. Here is a chance to do something, RIGHT NOW, that will have concrete results. You don't have to give up your ideology, just send the damn message and help people who are poor and oppressed. What could it possibly cost you?????)
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