A hot August day neared its end. CFA member and Stanislaus State computer science professor John Sarraille reflected on a marathon day as he finished up a 14-mile Central Valley march from Livingston to Turlock with thousands of farm workers statewide. The march, organized by the United Farm Workers, is in support of their efforts for Assembly Bill 2183.
The bill would make it easier for farm workers to vote in union elections, free from intimidation.
“A lot of wonderful conversation and I’m just ecstatic about all of the people [who] I met,” Sarraille said in that moment, remembering the music and conversations and kindness of farm workers, supporters, and advocates marching that day. “A wonderful experience.”
Farm workers have marched for nearly 24 days and 335 miles through the Central Valley. Their journey culminates on Friday at the Capitol where more than 5,000 farm workers and supporters are expected to rally to convince the Governor to sign AB 2183.
Across the state, CFA members have helped support this march and effort. For CFA member leader Leda Ramos, the effort is personal.
“My father, Jose Ramos, was a campesino in El Salvador before immigrating to Los Angeles, so I feel one generation away from the experiences of poverty, discrimination, and the brutality of farm work and labor conditions,” said Ramos. “As a child and as a family member of UNITE Local 11 (now UNITE HERE) in Los Angeles, we practiced solidarity with the young Chicanx UFW organizers in front of our local Safeway Market urging us to boycott grapes.
“I am honored to walk in solidarity with the farmworkers in 2022 and to connect this labor action to the historic 1966 UFW pilgrimage and march with Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta.”
Along with Sarraille, CFA Stanislaus President Dave Colnic, chapter Vice President Ann Strahm, and CFA Political Action and Legislative Committee Chair Steven Filling helped lead the chapter effort in supporting the marchers.
Filling said the chapter worked with a local restaurant to provide meals. He said the staff, faculty, and students came out in droves to support.
“There are all these harmonics of people who genuinely need things combined with the notion that they are being taken advantage of as workers,” said Filling. “The only way to even the playing field is the ability to unionize.”
Once the marchers make it to Sacramento, CFA Sacramento members will help support their efforts.
“This bill is quite necessary,” said Margarita Berta-Ávila, CFA Associate Vice President, North, and CFA Sacramento president.
Berta-Ávila said faculty from across the region are expected to join the last portion of the march.
“As workers and as part of the labor movement, we can see the solidarity. Even though we might be in different sectors of the workforce, we can understand when your work is disrespected and when your rights are being violated,” said Berta-Ávila. “If we are not in solidarity with one another, then we definitely set a precedence for exploitation to continue. This is a critical position for labor to take with UFW to demonstrate that this will not be allowed in any workforce or field.”
This isn’t the only current labor effort to support.
On August 15, Kaiser Permanente mental health workers began an open-ended strike across Northern California. More than 2,000 psychologists, therapists, social workers, psychiatric nurses, and addiction medicine specialists picketed outside Kaiser facilities from Fresno to Sacramento.
“We, as CFA Counselors Committee representing CSU mental health counselors, are in solidarity with those striking from the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW),” CFA Counselors Committee chair Susan Chen (SFSU) and member Ian Wallace (CSU Maritime) wrote. “We are in support of our fellow unionized workers and their demands that include safe and sustainable working conditions, as well as pay equity.
“We call on Kaiser Permanente management to respect the dignity of workers and to meet their important demands.”
It’s the largest strike in the country. Click here to learn more about their efforts.