Taughannock Falls

Taughannock Falls
from: althouse.blogspot.com

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Cesar Chavez Day

People across the country took time today to celebrate Cesar Chavez day. In California, farmworkers still carry on his struggle:

SALINAS - Despite decades of struggle, California's farmworkers continue to live in poverty and without adequate access to education and health care.

That was the message from a group of elected officials and farmworker advocates as they celebrated the birthday of civil rights leader and United Farm Workers founder Cesar Chavez on Thursday.

Flanked by farmworkers and their supporters waving red UFW flags at a press conference at Clinica de Salud del Valle de Salinas, the group released a report filled with grim statistics and offered policy recommendations for officials in Sacramento and Washington, D.C.

"Farmworkers face the same crippling socio-economic conditions they experienced earlier," said Dr. Maximiliano Cuevas, chief executive officer of the safety-net clinic in East Salinas. "It's a good time for us to come together and continue the efforts that Cesar Chavez left to us to pursue."

In Sacramento, the state Senate marked the day by passing SB 104, the Fair Treatment for Farm Workers Act, on a 24-15 vote. The legislation is aimed at making it easier to organize the fields by permitting unions to sign up a majority of workers rather than win an election at a polling place, which are typically on company property.

Cuevas urged legislators to adopt the report's recommendations, including holding off on a proposed shift of state services to counties until standards are set for serving farmworkers, providing county-based clinics incentives to care for farmworkers, and establishing a task force to regularly survey farmworkers and to design comprehensive strategies for improving their health.

The report, "The Status of California Farm Workers Since 1990: Progress or Retrenchment," is based on data from the U.S. Department of Labor's National Agricultural Surveys conducted during the 1990s and 2000s, as well as from policy papers produced with grants from the California Endowment during the past decade. Though the most recent statistics are from 2005, Maggie Melone, a clinic board member, said not much has changed.

Working conditions have improved with drinking water and toilets more likely to be available in the fields, and fewer and better-trained workers handling pesticides, but socio-economic factors indicating a better quality of life have barely budged, the report says.

While workers in all sectors of the U.S. economy need unions to fight for better pay and conditions, this need is desperate for those who toil in the fields. Cesar Chavez staged hunger-strikes to call attention to his cause. He never gave up hope that the struggle for justice would prevail. Today we can see that all American workers need his powerful spirit to beat back the attacks of the plutocrats.


Cletis L. Stump said...

Ulysses, thanks for the video. I had not seen it. It seems so obvious to me. Hopefully, my friend, it is becoming more obvious to others. Good things occur when well-intended people act in concert. I have written a simple pledge, call to action, which will post at my place after midnight. You are a very bright fellow.

Cletis L. Stump said...

Also, Ulysses, if you like my pledge, please repost it. I hope to spread it around a bit. I made up a T-Shirt awhile back which I allow charities to use for fundraisers. "Love is a Verb" Words have great power to energize and I hope my pledge will encourage people to also act in accordance with their progressive beliefs.