Actor Martin Sheen arrested with seven religous leaders for demanding justice for strawberry workers’ rights.
Famed Actor Arrested After Demanding Respect for Strawberry Workers’ Rights
Latino actor Ramon Estevez, known in films and on television as Martin Sheen, and seven religious leaders were arrested April 29 in Watsonville after the area’s largest strawberry grower tossed away a pledge demanding the company allow workers to support the United Farm Workers without fear of reprisal.
Sheen and the others were arrested at Gargiulo Inc., which is controlled by the $9 billion Monsanto chemical corporation. Before the arrests at Gargiulo’s huge Watsonville facility, Sheen and the clergy presented a pledge that they asked company officials to sign.
In order "to guarantee that strawberry workers have the freedom to choose a union," the pledge asked Gargiulo and its parent firm, Monsanto, to:
Immediately recall all workers and pay lost wages to those who are victims of discrimination.
*End all threats and harassment on the job against employees who back the UFW.
*Obey California’s law that encourages and protects the right of farm workers to organize.
*Negotiate in good faith for a union contract after workers vote for the UFW and the election is certified by the state.
*Refrain from shutting down or threatening to close operations if workers support the union.
Pickers at three large strawberry ranches have recently voted for the UFW in state-conducted secret-ballot elections. But growers have responded by laying off the workers, shutting down production and in the last case by plowing under portions of the crop
After Gargiulo officials said the pledge had been thrown away, Sheen and the others were ordered off Gargiulo’s property.
They refused to leave and were arrested for trespassing by about 12 officers from the Watsonville Police Department and the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Department.
Arrested were Sheen, 56; Rev. Eugene Boyle, 75, of the San Jose Catholic Diocese; Deacon Sal Alvarez, 56, of Trinity Catholic Church in San Jose; Father Bill Lenninger, 66, of Transfiguration Church, San Jose; Rabbi Richard Litvak, 46, of Temple Beth-El, Aptos; retired Methodist Rev. Darrel Darling, 56, of Santa Cruz; Father William O’Donnell, 67, of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Berkeley; and Jane Yett, 50, of Friends Church, Santa Cruz.
Sheen later repeated the words of the UFW’s legendary founder, Cesar Chavez, when he said, "Every time we sit at a table and enjoy the fruits and vegetables that come from our good Earth, remember they come from workers who have been exploited for generations."