News outlets are giddy with the announcement of a tour by the California Latino Legislative Caucus, of the illegal immigrant detention facilities at the Ventura County Naval Base “to inspect the care immigrants are receiving.”
These same California lawmakers have ignored the plight and pleas for help of thousands of Latino farm workers who are fighting to decertify the United Farm Workers labor union, and the state Agricultural labor Relations Board.
Ironically, this same group of people – Hispanic farm laborers – are the very demographic the Democratic Party is so eager to register to vote in local, state and national political elections. But when it comes to the farm workers not wanting to work under an oppressive union contract, state elected Democrats are silent.
“The California Latino Legislative Caucus has expressed its own concerns with the efforts, particularly the conditions that immigrants, many of whom are unaccompanied minors, face when they arrive in the U.S. Last month, the caucus sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security asking for ‘the humane treatment of all detained immigrant children’ and demanding an immediate moratorium on deportations,” the Sacramento Bee reported.
State Sens. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, Norma Torres, D-Pomona, and Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana, and Assembly members Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville, and Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, will visit the detention facility at the Ventura County Naval Base today to inspect the care immigrants are receiving, according to the Bee.
Each of these lawmakers received a letter from Silvia Lopez, a 16-year Gerawan Farming employee. Lopez, who is leading the effort for the workers, sent Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Los Angeles, Latino Caucus chairman, and each member of the Latino Caucus, a letter in English and Spanish. But Lopez got no response.
“Mr. Chavez once said, that it is ‘never about grapes or lettuce, it is always about people,’” Lopez wrote. “I believe that is true, and that is why I write to you.”
“I am writing on behalf of thousands of real people and their real families who need the help of the Latino Caucus. We are farmworkers employed by Gerawan Farming in the Central Valley,” Lopez said in her letter. “We are field laborers and packers. We work with apricots, nectarines, peaches, and grapes. We are the exact kinds of people Mr. Chavez worked for his whole life. I believe that if Mr. Chavez was here today and visited our worksites, he would be happy at the progress that has been made and the good working conditions we have.”
The ALRB has continued to try to impose a collective bargaining agreement on the Gerawan Farming workers, rather than counting their ballots. The ballots were cast in an ALRB union decertification election in November, which came about because the employees did not want to be in a contract with the UFW. They already enjoy good wages, benefits, and an employer they like.
Fresno County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Hamilton recently denied the Agricultural Labor Relations Board General Counsel’s request for a temporary restraining order to impose the union-negotiated Collective Bargaining Agreement, a new union contract on the 5,000 employees of Gerawan Farming. In his decision, the judge indicated that imposing the United Farm Workers’ union contract would prohibit employees from holding additional decertification elections, which is “a clear objective of numerous Gerawan employees.”
Isn’t it ironic that the ALRB, created in the 1970’s to provide farm workers a voice, refuses to let workers have a voice to vote, because the outcome may not fit their agenda.
Read my latest stories about the workers’ fight against the UFW and ALRB: