Taking a rather circuitous route from Madera to Sacramento, United Farm Workers of America members and supporters stopped in Lodi late Tuesday afternoon after spending most of the day in Stockton spreading their message, especially to the Latino population.
After light breakfast, a blessing and Holy Communion this morning in Hale Park, marchers will continue into Galt today and meet farmworkers there. By Sunday, they will be at the State Capitol for a rally intended to encourage Gov. Jerry Brown to sign some UFW-backed legislation.
“Sí, se puede,” Spanish for “Yes, we can,” was recited several times by UFW members and supporters at Hale Park. “Sí, se puede” is a slogan established by the late United Farm Workers founder Cesar Chavez.
Some 60 people marched from Stockton to Lodi on Tuesday. They were joined by several children from Joe Serna Jr. Charter School, named after the late Sacramento mayor who grew up as a farmworker in the Lodi area. Serna’s sister, Maria Elena Serna, helped organize events in Lodi.
“The response has been tremendous,” United Farm Workers President Arturo Rodriguez said during the Hale Park stop. “The students today — that was a great surprise.”
Rodriguez is only the second president in the UFW’s 49-year history. He became president when Chavez died in 1993.
The current UFW march began on Aug. 23 in Madera and will end at the State Capitol on Sunday. The purpose is to encourage Gov. Jerry Brown to sign the revised Fair Treatment for Farm Workers Act, which would allow farmworkers to join a union free from intimidation and threats, in addition to workers receiving overtime when they work more than eight hours a day and 40 hours a week, according to the United Farm Workers website.
The state Assembly and Senate have already approved Senate Bill 104, authored by State Sen. Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento.
But before heading to Sacramento, union members are marching through Latino neighborhoods throughout the San Joaquin Valley. Marchers will head to Galt at about 7:30 a.m., where they will march west on Kost Road and wind through neighborhoods in west Galt before arriving for dinner at St. Christopher’s Catholic Church on South Lincoln Way.
On Tuesday, farmworkers marched north on West Lane in Stockton to Lodi, east on Lodi Avenue, north on Central Avenue and winding through the Eastside to Hale Park
Farmworkers have walked from 15 to 22 miles each day of the campaign, which started in Madera and included overnight stops in Le Grand, Merced, Livingston, Turlock, Modesto, Manteca and Stockton before arriving in Lodi.
In his remarks at Hale Park, Rodriguez recalled Lodi’s Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez, 17, who died in 2008 of heatstroke after collapsing in a Farmington vineyard. Jimenez family members attended the Tuesday’s rally.
Although Jimenez’s death resulted in legislation improving safety-related conditions for farmworkers, Rodriguez said there have been three more heat-related deaths this year that are being investigated — one each in Fresno, Riverside and Imperial County.
“We still have a lot of work to do, though we’ve done so much in the way of changes,” said Armando Elenes, the UFW’s vice president.
Agriculture is one of the most dangerous jobs in the country, Elenes said. There continues to be off-the-clock work along with sexual harassment of workers, he said.
After speeches and recorded music from Spanish radio station La Campesina 90.5 FM, participants enjoyed donated enchiladas, Mexican rice, refried beans, pizza, corn on the cob and watermelon.
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.