24-day march of farm workers culminates in Sacramento, pressuring Newsom to sign union bill

Thousands of farm workers and their allies finished marching to the California State Capitol in Sacramento on Friday, completing the final leg of a 24-day journey that began in Delano, 350 miles away. Unions designed the march to pressure Gov. Gavin Newsom to sign a bill giving farmworkers the option to vote by mail in union elections, mirroring the way Californians vote for candidates for public office. Did.

A state law now in effect requires farm workers to vote in-person in union elections on sites owned by the producers who employ them.

“It creates a lot of threats. A lot of employers have security there and all supervisors are there, but it doesn’t encourage participation,” says Teresa of United Farm Workers.・President Romero said in an interview with KQED.

The Farm Workers Relations Vote Choice Act, Congressional Bill 2183, changes that in-person voting requirement and also prohibits producers from encouraging or discouraging union membership. Under the new bill, producers could also face fines of up to $25,000 for certain specific labor rights violations and up to $10,000 for general labor rights violations.

But in a statement released hours before farm workers marched the last mile to the Capitol, Newsom said it does not support the current bill. said there was room for negotiation.

Veronica Mota, one of 19 farm workers who endured triple-digit temperatures throughout the 24-day march, said she was sad to hear the news but remained motivated.

“This doesn’t take away my motivation to keep trying to do what’s right,” Mota told KQED.

A smiling woman holds a red flag as she walks in front of a line of marchers along a country road in the sunshine
Isabella Gonzalez walks with her family during the United Farm Workers’ March departing Walnut Grove on Wednesday, day 22 of the 24-day March for the Governor’s Signature. (Beth Laberge/KQED)

“Fifty-six years ago, César Chavez made this march to raise awareness of farmworker issues,” Romero said.

“We thought it was important enough to recreate that march so people and consumers understand that farm workers still need the rights that other workers have. Thanks to our efforts, we all eat.”

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