Two months ago, Gov Brown vetoed the Fair Treatment for Farm Workers Act, a bill that would have made it easier for farm workers to join a union and speak up for their rights. More than 1,000 farm workers visited the Capitol during the 12 days Governor Brown deliberated on the bill. Risking their jobs to attend, they held vigils, fasted and rallied for change. They told the Governor how the laws in the books are not the laws in the fields. They talked about having no bathroom breaks, no overtime pay, no respect and the lack of enforcement of heat regulations. And they were right– two more workers may have died of heat related illness this year alone.
Farm workers can't afford to wait any more, not when their lives are at risk. A revised version of the Fair Treatment for Farm Workers Act and another bill to ensure farm workers recieve the same overtime pay as other workers are expected to be introduced in the legislature shortly. And this time, the farm workers are using their marching feet to try and convince Gov. Jerry Brown to sign those two bills when they reach his desk.
Yesterday, the United Farm Workers kicked off a 200-mile “Fair Treatment For Farm Workers Now” march up the Central Valley to Sacramento. Over the next two weeks, there will be up to 50 full-time marchers who will be joined by farm workers and community folks throughout the route, and by thousands of farm workers when they arrive at the Capitol on Sept. 4th, Labor Day weekend.
One farm worker who will be marching for the full 13 days is Maria Escutia. Maria says she's marching because
I am very upset. I believe we work in dangerous conditions, in the heat, in the cold and I believe we deserve to be treated better without being intimidated at work; we deserve the right to have benefits. We deserve this and more.
It's not too late to join the march! You can view a schedule of stops and sign up to participate here. If you can't join the march in person, you can join the 'virtual march' or donate to the marchers. You can also support the marchers on Twitter.