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United Farm Workers march through Lodi

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Posted: Tuesday, August 30, 2011 8:48 pm | Updated: 7:57 am, Thu Sep 1, 2011.

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 rossf@lodinews.com.

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  • Robert Chapman posted at 5:45 am on Thu, Sep 1, 2011.

    Bob Chapman Posts: 997

    Like EVERY union, they all start off with good intentions. Unfortunately, as we now see, they end up being the "strong arm unions". Their origional concept has grown to influence political actions and price American business out of the global market. They especially have NO place in our government entities. Union graft and corruption goes all the way to the oval office.

  • Joanne Bobin posted at 8:43 pm on Wed, Aug 31, 2011.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4308

    Anyone who has read or researched the formation of the UFW would not make ridiculous comments such as that below.

    These hardworking people went through hell just to gain the same rights as the average American worker. They had to do it in extreme secrecy, meeting in a different location each time for fear of physical violence from thugs hired by farmers. They did it through the perseverence of Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta and the thousands of individuals who sacrificed greatly so future generations could work in semi-decent conditions.

    To dismiss this group as a "strong arm union" is simply ignorance.

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 7:11 am on Wed, Aug 31, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9403

    Gov. Jerry Brown to sign some UFW-backed legislation.

    Im sure it will be exciting for these people to meet the godfather of strong arm unions...
    Mr Brown is highly thought of by them.



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