David Bacon spent three decades capturing the experiences of laborers, their treatment and where they came from.
Will Gov. Gavin Newsom expand food aid to help those he touted during the pandemic?
Assembly Bill 616 would have made it easier for California farmworkers to vote to unionize by allowing them to fill out and mail ballots as absentees.
Legal observers worry a ruling against a California law could signal a willingness to undermine labor codes with ‘states’ rights’ arguments.
From the start a labor rule allowing union access to farmworkers in the field helped level the relationship between workers and growers.
Farmworkers may be considered “essential,” but the undocumented workers who pick the nation’s food are excluded from the CARES Act.
Protest marches, which also commemorated the birthday of UFW co-founder Cesar Chavez, follow several months of UFW activity opposing immigration enforcement, and of organizing workers to defend themselves against it.
The message from the California Supreme Court to growers is that when farm workers vote for the union, a state law has teeth that can force companies to negotiate.
Co-published by The American Prospect /
“Sustainability” is the mantra for many groups and businesses near the Salton Sea. But sustainability for whom? BY DAVID BACON
For over 160 years the California State Fair has been run by growers to showcase the wonders and wealth of the state’s agriculture. And for over 160 years the fair did this without mentioning the people whose labor makes agriculture possible: farmworkers. This year that changed.
When writer and veteran union organizer David Bacon speaks of “people who travel with the crops,” he means the agricultural workers who move from place to place to cultivate and harvest California’s fields. They are also the subject of his newest work of photojournalism.
When Cesar Chavez led a band of farm workers on their historic 300-mile march from Delano to Sacramento half a century ago, they prominently displayed banners of the Virgin de Guadalupe throughout the line. Why? Because that image held symbolic weight far beyond any other the group could carry.
Bill Raden reports on the Assembly’s approval of overtime pay for California’s farm laborers, based on an eight-hour workday.
For the state’s first hundred-plus years, certain unspoken rules governed California politics. In a state where agriculture produced more wealth than any industry, the first rule was that growers held enormous power.
Consuelo Mendez was 23 when she arrived in the United States 45 years ago, looking for work. In Ventura County she found it, harvesting strawberries, tomatoes, cabbage, parsley and spinach.
Sometimes the most interesting, and influential, figures in history are anything but household names. A case in point is Fred Ross, one of the greatest organizers of the 20th century.
(Yesterday David Bacon examined a decades-long labor war being fought by Gerawan Farming against the United Farm Workers — a union against which the company has been accused of orchestrating a decertification campaign. His reporting concludes today with a look at Gerawan’s political allies and the company’s attempt to overturn a key California labor law.)
As this fight unfolds, national anti-union organizations are moving in. The far-right Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence joined the appeals case. In recent years the Center has joined the Harris v. Quinn suit against the Service Employees International Union in Illinois, sued the California Labor Commissioner on behalf of employers, argued for Hobby Lobby stores against providing birth control for their employees, and supported the initiative to end affirmative action in Michigan.
Furthermore, the Center for Worker Freedom, headquartered in the Washington, D.C. offices of Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform (ATR),
When hundreds of people marched to the Los Angeles City Council last October, urging it to pass a resolution supporting a farm worker union fight taking place in California’s San Joaquin Valley, few had ever heard the name of the company involved. That may not be the case much longer. Gerawan Farming, one of the country’s largest growers, with 5,000 people picking its grapes and peaches, is challenging the California law that makes farm workers’ union rights enforceable. Lining up behind Gerawan are national anti-union think tanks. What began as a local struggle by one grower family to avoid a union contract is getting bigger, and the stakes are getting much higher.
The Gerawan workers got the City Council’s support and, on February 10, the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education passed a resolution that went beyond just an encouraging statement. The LAUSD purchases Gerawan’s Prima label fruit through suppliers for 1,270 schools and 907,000 students.
It’s been more than 50 years since Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta founded the United Farm Workers union. In the ensuing decades, broader activism and increased awareness of the importance of those who grow and harvest our food have resulted in better wages and living conditions for some workers in our state and others, in spite of public indifference. The farmworkers’ story of struggle and of battles won (and those yet to be fought) are told in Food Chains, an unsparing documentary that screened Sunday at Laemmle’s Playhouse 7 in Pasadena under the sponsorship of the nonprofit Food Chain Workers Alliance.
The film chronicles the exploitation and brutal poverty — and in some instances, forms of enslavement— that plague American agriculture. Food Chains is directed by Sanjay Rawal, produced by Rawal, Smriti Keshari and Hamilton Fish, narrated by Forest Whitaker, and executive-produced by actress Eva Longoria and activist/filmmaker Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation);
Activist Video Archive, that indispensable repository of Los Angeles’ progressive history, has recently released excerpts from an in-depth interview it conducted with Angela Sanbrano, a key figure in the Latino-rights movement. Sanbrano, who got her first reluctant taste of activism through the United Farm Workers union grape boycott, went on to co-found Inquilinos Unidos, was National Director of the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES) and served as executive director of the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN-LA).
Sanbrano would play a critical role in organizing 2006’s massive immigrant rights march in Los Angeles that protested the criminalization of undocumented immigrants. Today she serves as the executive director of the Mexican Network of Migrant Leaders and Organizations.